Health Minister Sussan Ley announced late last month that the Federal Government would undertake consumer consultations as part of its review of Private Health Insurance. She advised that there would be a focus on value for consumers and the long-term sustainability of private health insurance in Australia. Consultations will also be held with insurers, hospitals and doctors to discuss structural reform to the system to draw out better value for consumers.
Dr Stephanie Davies, a member of APMA's Clinical Advisory Committee and colleagues from WASPS (WA Specialist Pain Services) will shortly launch 'Rewire Your Pain – An evidence-based approach to reducing chronic pain'. Packed full of transforming tips on how to manage pain and get the most out of your life, many suggestions are based on movement, healthy lifestyles and positive thinking, rather than increased medication.
APMA CEO Elizabeth Carrigan endorses the message provided by the book, which she believes "provides people of any age who live with on-going pain practical and evidence-based strategies to manage their pain."
The Therapeutic Goods Administration recently undertook public consultation in regard to a proposal that all medicines containing codeine currently available over-the-counter (OTC) be re-scheduled as S4 prescription-only medicines. The reasoning behind the proposal was that potential issues of morbidity, toxicity and dependence require restrictions. Most organisations lodging submissions opposing the proposal - including APMA, the Consumers Health Forum, Painaustralia, the Pharmacy Guild and the AMA - but the TGA initially announced an 'interim' decision to adopt the proposal.
In a move strongly welcomed by APMA, the TGA medicines scheduling delegate subsequently announced on 19 November (after a further round of consultations) that any rescheduling of codeine-based medicines will be delayed until at least 2017 because of the number of submissions received during the consultation process.
The deferral will allow more thorough consideration of the submissions and the subsequent information provided.
The recent ABC Four Corners exposé of medical waste reinforces the urgent need to re-examine the continued inclusion of a range of medical procedures and treatments on the Medical Benefits Schedule (MBS) in light of the current evidence about efficacy, safety and cost-effectiveness.
The Australian Pain Management Association (APMA) strongly supports call from a wide range of bodies, including eminent clinicians and health experts involved in the Choosing Wisely campaign, for a comprehensive review of the MBS. The review needs to not only examine which procedures and treatments should continue to be eligible for Medicare funding, but also whether particular diagnostic or clinical features are necessary before the procedures can be funded.