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AMA breaks ground with insurers

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The AMA has held talks with the nation’s largest health fund on ways the profession and insurers can work more closely together to improve the health system.

AMA President Dr Steve Hambleton met with the Medibank Private (MBP) Board, including Managing Director George Savvides and Medibank Health Solutions Group Executive Dr Matthew Cullen, earlier this month for discussions on opportunities for closer collaboration between the profession and the sector, such as in chronic disease management and continuing professional development.

“We all recognise that there is unlikely to be any huge change in the health system in the next couple of years,” Dr Hambleton said. “Activity based funding is yet to be bedded down.”

But he said there were many opportunities for private funds like MBP to work with practitioners and practices, such as by assisting practices which were developing their own annual continuing professional development programs.

Last year, MBP’s offshoot Medicare Health Solutions (MHS) drew the ire of the AMA after it won the contract to manage on-base health services for Australian Defence Force personnel and unilaterally slashed specialist fees and imposed stringent reporting conditions.

Dr Hambleton said the AMA had made it clear to MBP that it was disappointed with the lack of consultation provided by MHS, “and they [the Medibank Board] recognised that consultation with the AMA would have assisted their decision-making”.

Last month, Australian Medicine reported that health services for ADF personnel were in disarray, with doctors facing long delays for payments for services provided, and difficulty in many areas in finding specialists to provide off-base services.

The AMA has called for the Abbott Government to commission an immediate audit of MHS and the coordination of health services for Defence staff.

Adrian Rollins