The AMA has called on the Federal government to immediately end the freeze on Medicare rebates for pathology services that has been in place for more than 20 years.
Federal AMA president Dr Tony Bartone made the call in response to an announcement by health minister Greg Hunt that indexation will be re-introduced for most diagnostic imaging services – including X-rays and ultrasounds – from 1 July 2020.
“[The government] must now do the right thing by patients and do the same for pathology services. The freeze has gone on for far too long. Patients and the Australian health system are the big losers,” said Dr Bartone.
He noted the AMA had released an updated Position Statement on Pathology 2019, which “underlines the AMA’s ongoing commitment to supporting doctors who provide pathology services, as well as doctors who refer their patients to these services for diagnosis and monitoring.”
“The vital role of pathology to 21st century health care is too often undervalued, and this must change,” Dr Bartone said.
“Underfunding of pathology services affects the safety, quality, and timeliness of all health services. It is impacting on the pathology workforce and will seriously challenge the sector’s viability if the underfunding continues.”
Dr Bartone said that the AMA had for some time been calling on the Federal Government to provide realistic reimbursements to patients through Medicare so that pathology services remain high-quality, timely, and accessible to people who need them.
“Investment in high-quality pathology services ultimately saves taxpayers from higher downstream costs in the acute care sector.”
“We are highlighting emerging issues that are impacting on the pathology sector, patients, and the broader health sector,” he said.
The AMA Position Statement on Diagnostic Imaging 2019 is at https://ama.com.au/position-statement/pathology-2019.