The Government is committed to ensuring that health expenditure is sustainable and appropriately targeted towards patient care.
The Government announced changes to incentives paid to pathology and diagnostic imaging providers for bulk billed services as part of the MYEFO announcement in December 2015. These changes were proposed as these incentives have had minimal impact on billing practices since they were introduced in 2009.
Following this MYEFO decision, and through the election period, the Government consulted with providers of pathology and diagnostic imaging services about the changes.
As a result, the Government announced new proposals regarding access to diagnostic imaging and pathology services that will help limit out-of-pocket costs for patients.
In relation to diagnostic imaging, the Government has committed to improving safe and affordable access to frontline services.
The Government will deliver a broad package of measures to strengthen the industry and ensure taxpayer dollars are targeted where they will help patients the most.
This has been the result of many months of constructive consultations with the Australian Diagnostic Imaging Association and its members.
This includes immediately commissioning an independent evaluation, in consultation with the sector, of the commercial pressures facing diagnostic imaging providers, as well as developing a quality framework for procedures based on expert advice.
This evaluation will also help identify areas where taxpayer investment could be better targeted to help improve patient access to affordable and safe scans and imaging procedures.
In the meantime, the Australian Diagnostic Imaging Association has acknowledged that they do not expect current bulk billing rates to change.
The Government is also committed to ensuring Australians continue to have affordable access to pathology services.
The Government has reached agreement with Pathology Australia to take action to reduce regulatory cost pressures on pathology providers. The pathology bulk billing incentives will be removed once these regulatory changes have been made.
These changes will allow the pathology sector to continue to provide all Australians affordable access to pathology services through maintaining current bulk billing rates.