AMA submission on the Federal Government’s new Data Matching arrangements

On behalf of the government, the Department of Health recently released a draft Bill for stakeholder consultation that is designed to circumvent existing statutory requirements governing data matching that involves MBS and PBS data, to make it easier for CEO Medicare to match these sensitive datasets for compliance purposes.

The AMA strongly supports accountability within the health system, including the appropriate use of the Medicare Benefits Schedule and Pharmaceutical Benefits Schedule in providing patients with equitable access to medical services.  This includes a responsibility that all medical practitioners have as stewards of the health system. 

Although the government has a responsibility to monitor the accuracy of claims against the Medical Benefits Scheme and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme the draft Bill released for consultation, did not strike the right balance between using matched data for MBS/PBS compliance and the patient’s right to privacy.  The AMA submission called for the inclusion of legal obligation to publish the new data matching system and a complete up to date list of all persons authorised to access the results of matched data that includes MBS and PBS.  The AMA also opposed the loose drafting that would permit matched MBS and PBS data to be disclosed to ‘any person authorised by CEO Medicare’.  Given the highly sensitive nature of matched MBS/PBS data, disclosure for purposes beyond compliance, should occur via through existing Guidelines that require a high standard of privacy protection.   

This submission was lodged with the Department of Health on 18 October 2019.  The AMA is pleased the revised Health Legislation Amendment (Data-matching and Other Matters) Bill 2019 introduced to the Parliament on 23 October 2019, addressed many of the AMA’s concerns raised in our submission.

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