Medtech agreement with government an opportunity for reform

By Ian Burgess, CEO, Medical Technology Association of Australia
Friday, 24 November, 2017

Adobestock 86862019

Last year in Australia more than 2.5 million surgeries took place and, for each and every one of these surgeries, medical technology played a part. Medical technology (medtech) allows patients to hear, to walk, to see, to live or to have a quality of life that they otherwise would not have.

Following the federal Budget health reforms in May this year, Minister for Health the Hon Greg Hunt identified private health insurance and the Prostheses List as the “next wave” of reforms. MTAA actively engaged with the government and, following five months of intensive negotiation, MTAA signed a historic agreement with the federal government on 11 October 2017.

While the agreement includes further cuts to the Prostheses List, it also delivers four years of certainty and stability for the medtech industry and a pathway to broader beneficial reforms. The agreement also acknowledges the evidence-based data developed by MTAA and firmly discredits the wildly inaccurate figures of potential savings to the Prostheses List that have been promoted by the private health insurance industry.

The agreement, in effect from 15 October 2017 to 31 January 2022, will deliver more than $300 million in annual benefit reductions to medical devices listed on the Prostheses List. Coming on top of the $86 million annual cuts in February 2017, this represents a $1.5 billion saving to private health insurance companies over the next four years.

It is essential that insurers fully pass on to consumers the savings that this agreement provides and the focus moves to both the value of the health insurance product and assessment of the other 90% of private health insurance rebate expenditure that sits outside of the price of medical technology.

These cuts will not be easy for the medtech sector and will undoubtedly result in significant impacts, including job losses, reduced R&D, reduced education and training for healthcare professionals, and reduced investment in clinical trials. The medtech industry will continue to do what it does best — assist patients to lead healthier and more productive lives.

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