There are no changes proposed in MYEFO regarding the cost of either receiving or delivering a physical pap smear examination undertaken by your GP or specialist, nor their billing practices.
Nor is there any reduction in the dollar-value of the Medicare rebate a patient receives to undertake associated pathology tests.
Changes in MYEFO relate to an inefficient payment – worth between $1.40 and $3.40 – that is paid direct to pathology corporations separate to the Medicare rebate.
It is therefore not part of the patient’s Medicare rebate, as some have tried to claim today.
Alleged claims by pathologists about the potential cost of raising their prices as a result of any changes are also misleading, because they have omitted the value of the Medicare rebate a patient receives from the Government to help cover this very cost.
This payment was also only introduced in 2009 at a cost of $500 million over five years – it is not a long-standing or fundamental pillar of Medicare.
This is evidenced by the fact bulk billing rates for pathology are at similar levels now as they were prior to the introduction of this alleged incentive payment.
The Government made this MYEFO decision in acknowledgement of the growing competition for the nation’s health dollar and the need to ensure our investment in Medicare remains sustainable into the future.
For example, the Government also invested $1.6 billion in MYEFO on new breakthrough medicines, including a cure for Hepatitis C, which affects over 200,000 Australians.
It is important to acknowledge complaints from stock exchange-listed pathology companies about this MYEFO decision have revolved around impacts on ‘shareholders’ – not patients – exposing what is really motivating these criticisms.
Medicare is not designed to be a guaranteed bankable revenue for corporations, nor is a taxpayer-funded payment like this provided to cross-subsidise other costs of doing business for pathology companies.
As for Labor, they have no credibility on this issue after they were recently exposed for cutting $550 million from pathology and reinvesting it back into the budget, not health, as they like to claim.