Nurse practitioners to get MBS items for skin procedures

Skin cancers

By Michael Woodhead

15 Feb 2019

Nurse practitioners will be given access to Medicare items for dermatology procedures such as removal of skin lesions and diagnostic skin biopsies under proposals made by the MBS Review Taskforce.

A report from the Taskforce’s Nurse Practitioner Reference Group recommends that skin procedural items currently restricted to GPs be widened to enable patients to access MBS rebates for procedures performed by a nurse practitioner.

The recommendations apply to the following MBS items:

  • Items 31356–31376: Removal of skin lesions.
  • Item 31205: Removal of skin lesion (excluding warts and seborrheic keratoses) ≤ 10mm.
  • Item 31210: Removal of skin lesion (excluding warts and seborrheic keratoses) 11-20mm.
  • Item 31230: Removal of skin lesion (excluding warts and seborrheic keratoses) from nose, eyelid, lip, ear, digit, genitalia.
  • Item 30071: Diagnostic Biopsy skin or mucous membrane.

The proposals are part of a series of recommendations on MBS rebates for many procedures and tests to reflect nurse practitioners’ scope of practice, according to the report.

According to the Group report, the expansion of MBS items to nurse practitioners “would improve access to timely, appropriate diagnostic and therapeutic procedures as patients would not have to wait to see a GP to receive these services and a rebate.”

“This would avoid unnecessary duplication and fragmentation of care for patients of nurse practitioners working within their scope of practice, who are functioning as an alternative to a medical practitioner.”

The report says the lack of MBS rebates for skin and other procedures performed by Nurse Practitioner can increase out-of-pocket costs for patients, perpetuate inefficiencies through duplication of care, and blur care accountability.

“Duplication, delays and inefficiencies can be created when a patient is referred to a medical practitioner for a procedure in order to be able to access the MBS rebate to which they are entitled,” it notes.

The recommendations of the Group have been circulated for consultation with stakeholder groups until 19 May 2019, and a final decision on whether to adopt the proposals will rest with the Federal Minister for Health.

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