Last month the Minister for Health Sussan Ley MP announced a comprehensive review of the 5500 items on the Medical Benefits Schedule (MBS).  The review will be ‘clinician led’ and be charged with identifying areas of inefficiency and ineffectiveness.  According to the Minister the review panel is not necessarily tasked with identifying savings but with identifying better patient outcomes.

While the MBS Review Taskforce led by Professor Bruce Robinson, Dean of the Sydney University Medical School will ‘draw on a broad range of expertise and experience – including clinicians (GPs and Specialists); Consumer and Patient Representatives; Academics; Primary Health Networks; Nurses; Allied Health Professional; Health Economists; and States and Territories’ it is has not yet released any detail as to what form this wide consultation will take or if there will be an opportunity for public submissions.

The Taskforce is to report back to the government with key priority areas for action in late 2015.  Previous reviews of the MBS have not been noted for their speed.  The Productivity Commission Research Paper into Efficiency in Health noted that the MBS Comprehensive Management Framework has conducted less than ten reviews over a five year period and has not updated its website since 2011.  While the MBS review has wide ranging support, the timeframe seems hugely ambitious and it is difficult to see how the Taskforce can review 5500 items, consult widely, evaluate clinical evidence and report back to government in less than 8 months.

Participation by the medical technology industry in the review has not been mentioned by the Minister of Health as yet.