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Primary care reform using a layered approach to the Medicare Benefits Scheme: unpredictable and unmeasured

Justin J Beilby
Med J Aust 2007; 187 (2): 69-71.
Published online: 16 July 2007

The time has come to review and reflect on where these reforms are meant to be leading

There is now a plethora of new Medicare Benefits Scheme (MBS) item numbers encompassing chronic disease management, diabetes annual cycle of care, asthma cycle of care, 45-year-old health check, health assessments for older people and refugees, general practitioner mental health care, pregnancy support counselling service, and domiciliary medication management reviews. The availability of these item numbers would appear to be logical, as they are linked to important national policy initiatives such as the National Chronic Disease Strategy,1 Australian Better Health Initiative,2 and the National Mental Health Strategy.3 However, of increasing concern is that, with each budget cycle, another layer of new MBS item numbers is added. There is little clarification of what the final end point of these reforms will be. If the goal is a strong, robust and integrated primary care system4 that will deliver improved outcomes for these patient groups, then using the rather crude tool of successive new MBS item numbers alone is unpredictable5 and is likely to provide only part of the solution.

  • Justin J Beilby

  • Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA.


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