Thursday, 13 October 2011
Health Insurance (Extended Medicare Safety Net) Amendment Determination 2011 (No. 3)
On behalf of the Minister for Health and Ageing, I move:
That, in accordance with section 10B of the Health Insurance Act 1973, the House approves the Health Insurance (Extended Medicare Safety Net) Amendment Determination 2011 (No. 3) which was made on 26 September 2011, and presented to the House on 11 October 2011.
The Health Insurance (Extended Medicare Safety Net) Amendment Determination 2011 (No. 3) makes two changes to caps on benefits under the extended Medicare safety net. It indexes all existing capped items by the June quarter consumer price index, from 1 January 2012. In addition, it places caps on the benefits payable through the extended Medicare safety net for two new Medicare items for varicose veins. These caps were recommended by the independent expert Medical Services Advisory Committee and place an upper limit on the amount of benefit that can be paid under the extended Medicare safety net. As I said, this determination has two parts. Firstly, it will index existing extended Medicare safety net benefit caps under the consumer price index effective from 1 January 2012. For items currently subject to an extended Medicare safety net benefit cap, this determination will provide an increase in the maximum Medicare rebates payable for affected services. Items that are currently capped are all obstetric services, selected pregnancy ultrasounds, assisted reproductive technology services, hair transplantation for alopecia, one type of cataract surgery, one type of varicose vein treatment, services to provide facial injections for patients with human immunodeficiency virus and two of the new telehealth items. This determination will increase the caps by the June quarter CPI of 3.6 per cent. For example, for Medicare item 16590, planning and management of a pregnancy, the extended Medicare safety net benefit cap in 2011 was $209.30. After indexation, the maximum amount of benefit that can be paid through the extended Medicare safety net in 2012 for the same item will be $216.85.
Secondly, the determination will introduce extended Medicare safety net benefit caps on two new Medicare benefits scheme items. These items are for laser therapy or ELT which provides minimally invasive treatment for varicose veins. These items will be introduced on 1 November 2011. The Medical Services Advisory Committee, which provides independent expert advice to government, recommended that the MBS funding for ELT be introduced as long as there was a limit on the amount of extended Medicare safety net benefits payable for this service. This is an important determination for the parliament and I commend it to the House.
Question agreed to.