The process to get a new medical service listed on the Medical Benefits Schedule (MBS) and hence reimburse doctors and other healthcare providers has been criticised for being cumbersome, bureaucratic and non-transparent.

MSAC has released a first set of draft documents for comment. It is apparent that considerable effort and thought has gone into these documents, however some areas of concern can be identified.

  • The draft technical guidelines for MSAC submission have been in draft form for over two years. It is thought that these should be finalised with prior to reform. Adherence to these guidelines would negate the necessity of much of the reforms
  • Previously applicants were given the option of developing a protocol. This option has been removed in the proposed reforms. There is concern that there are insufficient resources available to the Secretariat to perform the additional work in a timely manner. Industry has considerable skill and resources that could continue to be drawn upon for this work
  • There are no prescribed timelines in the reforms and there are additional steps and processes that have been introduced. It is difficult to see how the proposed reforms will improve efficiency and timeliness.

Although it is early in the reform process, and MSAC is not noted for its speed, it is not apparent at this stage, with the information currently available how the proposed reforms will improve on the present situation in any real way.