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MBS reforms needed for effective care of chronic disease patients

Posted 14 August 2015

Friday 14 August 2015

Australian Institute of Health and Wellbeing research released this week reveals half of all Australians have a chronic disease. It emphasises the need for changes to the Medical Benefits Schedule (MBS) to address the growing burden of disease.

In its submission to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Inquiry into Chronic Disease Prevention and Management in Primary Health Care, the Victorian Healthcare Association (VHA) highlights the limitations of the MBS to support primary care providers to deliver effective care for patients with a chronic disease.

VHA CEO Tom Symondson said the current MBS rebates for management of chronic disease are only available for a limited range of interventions, a restricted number of treatment sessions and can only be delivered by specific professions.

“These constraints mean patients are missing out on long-term, well-rounded care that doesn’t just treat their immediate condition but helps prevent further deterioration of their health,” Mr Symondson said.

“An example of this is the absence of MBS funding available for smoking cessation clinicians, even though tobacco smoking is a well-established risk factor for chronic disease, and causes the greatest burden of disease in Australia.

“What we need is a medical benefits schedule that enables best-practice team-based care by multiple professions. For example, ensuring an arthritic patient can access not just ongoing pain management medications but also a care coordinator to arrange other therapeutic services such as physiotherapy.

“Without this wrap-around care, there is a greater chance the health of a chronic disease patient will deteriorate more rapidly and see them ending up at the hospital door requiring costly, avoidable care.

“The need for changes to the MBS is amplified by the Commonwealth’s irresponsible decision to scrap investment into prevention activities under the National Partnership Agreement on Preventative Health.

“Preventative health measures or early intervention, introduced before a patient develops a chronic disease, would reduce the burden of disease on the healthcare system, and promote keeping people well and out of hospital.”

The VHA submission on Chronic Disease Prevention and Management in Primary Health Care can be accessed here.

Media contact: Rachel White – 0438 815 561 rachel.white@vha.org.au

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