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08 May 2017


May is the busiest month in the AMA calendar with the Federal Budget, the AGM, and National Conference all taking place.

This year there is no election of office-bearers as part of National Conference, nor is there an election for positions on Federal Council. These are held every second year, in the even-numbered years. The President and the Vice President have a two-year term through to May 2018.

The National Conference program is now final. If you are not attending as a delegate but are interested in participating, general registrations remain open and can be accessed via the National Conference website. It is indicative of the high level of political interest in health policy that this year both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition are participating, in addition to the Minister for Health and Shadow Minister for Health.

As many members will be aware, the AMA has invested significantly in recent years in improving the digital delivery of information. The doctorportal platform is one example. In coming months the platform will be used to deliver online learning which will also provide CPD points. Online delivery of learning content will grow over time, with the AMA recognising that members want to learn in their own time, and often in a location where face-to-face learning is not readily accessible.

Another member benefit that will transition to a digital version during 2017 is the AMA Fees List. The new web-based Fees List will provide greater flexibility and security with members and their practices accessing the content via an online portal. An additional benefit is that changes in the MBS can be more readily accommodated as they are released, and incorporated into the Fees List. More information on the project will be made available over coming months.

In my last column I reported on the discussions at the March meeting of Federal Council about transparency of data on medical practitioner clinical quality performance, and transparency of fees charged by medical practitioners. As I noted at the time, both are areas of interest to the private health insurance sector which is making forays into the area of disclosure through websites such as Whitecoat.

At the instigation of the Nick Xenophon Team the Senate has agreed to refer to the Community Affairs References Committee, an inquiry into medical and private health insurance costs in what it argues is a bid to address medical fee structures and lack of transparency that is reducing access to private health care. The inquiry will look into the affordability of private health insurance and out-of-pocket medical costs, and other price issues affecting consumer access. These will include the role and function of medical pricing schedules such as the MBS and the AMA Fees List.

The AMA will be making a strong submission to the inquiry, with the committee to report by 27 November 2017.

Published: 08 May 2017