Minister accused of using Medicare review against doctors

THE Australian Medical Association has slammed the Federal Government's review into Medicare and the call for Australians to report unnecessary or unsafe medical procedures.

Health Minister Sussan Ley yesterday asked Australians to report unsafe, unnecessary or outdated procedures they had received as part of the government's review into 5700 items on the Medicare Benefits Schedule.

Ms Ley said feedback from doctors and other health professionals concerned about Medicare rules or items were also welcomed.

She said the Medicare review was "long overdue" and was the first of its kind since Medicare was introduced in the 1980s.

But AMA president Professor Brian Owler said the association was "deeply disappointed" with the approach of the Prime Minister and Ms Ley.

"We have known for some time that the MBS is outdated but what we cannot accept is the narrative ... that the profession is somehow using the MBS, performing unsafe and unnecessary procedures, palming patients for financial gain," Mr Owler said.

He said doctors did not only perform procedures to make patients better, often treatment was given to stop people getting sick.

Shadow health spokesperson Catherine King said the review opened the door to more health cuts.

Ms King also said it could end public funding for thousands of procedures and transfer costs on to sick Australians.

"You have to be very careful that it's not patients who are caught in the middle and patients who are paying the price at the end of the day," she said.

Ms Ley said the current Medicare system was lagging in the last century.

She said only 3% of all 5700 Medicare items that had been tested to determine if they actually worked, were out of date or harmful.

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