Health experts picked to lead Medicare review

By Melissa Coade

Tuesday September 14, 2021

The federal government has appointed two health experts to lead the advisory committee overseeing the new Medicare Benefits Schedule Review.
The federal government has appointed two health experts to lead the advisory committee overseeing the new Medicare Benefits Schedule Review. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

The federal government has appointed two health experts to lead the advisory committee overseeing the new Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) Review.

Professor Anne Duggan will chair the advisory committee and Jo Watson will serve as the deputy chair. 

A statement published on the Department of Health website on Monday announced the appointments, noting that the advisory committee would build on the work of the MBS review taskforce that, from 2015 to 2020, considered over 5,700 items in the schedule.

“Professor Duggan and Ms Watson have been selected for their extensive knowledge of the health system, their professional and community standing, and their understanding of broader structural whole-of-MBS issues,” the statement read.

“Throughout their careers, they have both made significant professional contributions to support important reforms to Australia’s health system. 

“Their appointments will support ongoing improvements to ensure access to high value and contemporary health services for all Australians.”

The review will consider the items and services offered under the MBS to ensure the list offers Australian citizens ‘flexible’, ‘contemporary’ and ‘universal access’ to the best technologies and services. The advisory committee will also complement the work of the Medical Services Advisory Committee to provide government advice on modern, high value services, and that funded services support good health outcomes.

Ongoing rigorous and comprehensive review and analysis is essential for a consistent, clear, and evidence-based MBS that works for patients and health professionals alike,” the health statement read.

“MRAC membership will include individuals with clinical, consumer, health, economic and research expertise and will adopt a consultative approach with peak medical groups.”

Duggan is a practicing gastroenterologist and the chief medical officer for the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care. She has a background in providing leadership to clinicians on improving patient care and embedding clinical governance frameworks. At the commission, Professor Duggan provides expert clinical advice about ways to improve the safety and quality of national healthcare. 

Watson serves as the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) deputy chair. She has previously held the position of chair of the Health Technology Assessment Consumer Consultative Committee and deputy chair of the Consumer Health Forum Board.

According to the department, $125.7 billion dollars will be invested by the federal government in Medicare over the next four years. 

“It reinforces the government’s commitment to provide Australians with affordable access to universal health care, a key pillar of the government’s Long-Term National Health Plan,” the statement read.


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