The strategy of finding health funding savings by “disinvesting” in existing medical care is a UK idea that has been well-described by Prof Adam Elshaug et al in his 2007 paper, “Challenges in Australian policy processes for disinvestment from existing, ineffective healthcare practices”. Prof Elshaug is now a member of the MBS Review Taskforce, chaired by Prof Bruce Robinson.
Faced with growing deficits, governments will seek to find savings wherever possible, including from the health budget, which consistently grows as the population grows. The ADF believes that a review of the MBS to remove outdated items and ambiguities is the prerogative of government. However, when a review starts to appear as a disguise for other agendas, it should be questioned and closely watched. The ADF maintains that the current MBS Review appears to be expanding its scope (agenda) from an evidence-based update of the MBS to a potential Trojan Horse for re-engineering the Australian medical profession and Australian healthcare. The ADF maintains that the MBS was designed to pay rebates for patients and not remuneration for doctors. It is what the government is prepared to rebate or refund to the patient for a medical or allied health procedure in line with the government’s budgetary objectives. Currently, there is a freeze on these rebates. The MBS Review could end up losing its way in an expensive 2 year exercise with numerous paid consultants and advisors and thousands of hours of voluntary effort in a fruitless search for the Holy Grail.