Wednesday, 17 February 2021
Health Insurance Amendment (Prescribed Fees) Bill 2021; Second Reading
That this bill be now read a second time.
I'm pleased to introduce the Health Insurance Amendment (Prescribed Fees) Bill 2021.
The bill amends the Health Insurance Act 1973 to remove the requirement for new specialists and consultant physicians to pay a prescribed fee when applying for recognition for higher Medicare rebates.
The current pathway to recognise a specialist or a consultant physician in the act requires a medical practitioner who has gained fellowship with a specialist medical college to apply to Services Australia for access to higher Medicare rebates. As part of this process the medical practitioner is required to pay a prescribed fee of $30 via cheque or money order to have their application processed.
During the COVID-19 crisis it became evident that this method of payment was impacting specialist and consultant physician recognition for the purpose of Medicare, as neither method of payment was efficient or practical during movement restrictions and in-person service closures. As a result, patients of new specialists or consultant physicians may not have been able to receive higher Medicare rebates when they were entitled to.
Implementation of the bill means a prescribed fee will no longer be required to accompany an application form for higher Medicare rebates for new specialists and consultant physicians. This removes the cost to specialists and consultant physicians and the administrative burden to Services Australia of processing the fee.
The cost of upgrading the method of accepting payment was assessed by the government as being far in excess of the revenue generated by the application fee, and therefore the government is removing the requirement to pay the fee at all.
Streamlining the process for new specialists and consultant physicians to gain access to higher Medicare rebates removes red tape for medical practitioners and allows for a simpler, more efficient administrative process for Services Australia.