The Australian Private Hospitals Association (APHA) has welcomed the government’s decision to review the Prostheses List.
Minister for Health Sussan Ley made the announcement on Friday morning (5 February), saying the Prostheses List should be a “priority” and that she will take advice from a new working group of doctors, consumers, insurers, manufacturers and hospital representatives.
The announcement follows intensive lobbying by APHA.
In its recent submission to the government’s private health insurance review consultation, APHA strongly encouraged Minister Ley to launch a detailed review of the Prostheses List.
APHA wrote to the Ms Ley again this week reiterating that it would strongly welcome the opportunity to participate in a review, and called on the Minister to pull all stakeholders together.
“We are pleased to see the Minister announce this working group,” APHA chief executive Michael Roff said.
“The establishment of this group is just one element we called for in our recent submission to government and we welcome the opportunity to participate in a detailed review of the Prostheses List.”
APHA acted in light of the recent media attention given to the Minister’s ongoing discussions with private health insurers regarding the 2016 premium setting process, and the focus in that context on the costs of surgically implanted prostheses.
APHA expressed its grave concerns that some commentators may have given the impression that there is an easy and immediate saving to be made in this area of expenditure, or that savings can be made through unilateral cuts to benefit levels set by the Prostheses List.
The list is large and complex in structure and the apparent disparities between its benefit levels and prices obtained in the public sector and overseas are not uniform, nor are they straightforward.
“We look forward to discussing the issues with other members of the industry and the government to ensure all parties understand the direct and indirect consequences of changing any benefit levels,” Mr Roff said.
“It is also time for health funds to stop making broad generalisations about the Prostheses List and bring the evidence they have to the table. We are also very pleased that the Minister has acknowledged the need to ensure the current pricing for prostheses is not unnecessarily holding up new devices and technology being available to patients.”