Budget leak: a slow thaw in MBS fee freeze

Medical politics

By Mardi Chapman

27 Apr 2017

A gradual reintroduction of indexation for MBS fees appears likely after the Budget is delivered on May 9.

Specialists might have to wait their turn however with punters suggesting GPs will be first in line for relief from the long-standing fee freeze.

In reporting ‘one of the most comprehensive pre-budget leaks ever’ News Corp said the Medicare rebate for GP visits will rise from July 2017 for concession patients and from July 2018 for general patients.

“The Medicare rebate for specialist consultations will rise in 2018 but the rebates for specialist procedures won’t be indexed until 2019,”  the article said.

Offsetting the hit to the health budget will be some savings through measures to encourage greater use of generic medicines including biosimilars.

There is talk that prescribing software may default to generic medicines – forcing doctors to take extra steps if they want to prescribe more expensive brands.

With almost two weeks to go to Budget night, no one is prepared to go on the record about the proposed changes.

However News Corp’s national health correspondent said pharmaceutical companies might have to ‘wear major price cuts to their products’ as they come off patent.

“This means when the nation’s most expensive drugs Humira, used for rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and skin problems and Herceptin, used for breast cancer come off patent next year their price will be automatically cut by 25 per cent,” the News Corp article said.

Watch this space.

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