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Seeking member involvement in advocacy on MBS cardiac imaging changes

Wednesday 11, Nov 2020

Dear members,

I have been giving you updates on the MBS cardiac imaging changes through our newsletter.  This sort of thing we don’t usually make a big deal about, but this situation is likely to affect our profession and its future and we have been working actively behind the scenes on this for several months now since the unexpected change.  We recognise too that this doesn't affect all members but, ultimately it has an impact on the profession and its future in the healthcare landscape.

The issue

Our advocacy and work on this is continuing with the AANMS and ADIA. Unfortunately, our efforts at engaging with the Department of Health have not been very successful. The result of our approaches (and that of others) to the Minister’s office has whilst sympathetic had us being referred to MSAC to make a case for myocardial perfusion imaging to be separately listed on the Medicare Reimbursement Schedule. We consider this an inferior and expensive way to resolve this situation and perverse given the length of time that MPI has been utilised in healthcare. It would be costly and time-consuming to prosecute with no certainty of outcome.  There would be a need to provide evidence of MPI superiority to Echocardiography and address perceived radiation (and in our view unfounded) concerns associated with medical imaging. These latter aspects were reasons it seems the Echo Cardiograms were  preferred in the latest changes.   

All we have been asking for is to allow referrers to select the best test for their patients which will often be echocardiography but, on occasion, would be MPI.  A particular issue is that we are seen as biased and hence it would be good to garner support from our referrers-particularly cardiologists.

What we need/ Want you to assist with 

Recently the Department of Health had emailed information to stakeholders about the changes that came into effect and that general feedback, issues and concerns should be provided to MBSReviews@health.gov.au Any members that have contacted the Department about the changes and have received feedback, we would be very interested to see what you received.  

There is a Director of a Cardiology Department looking to write to federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt regarding the restrictiveness of the current items and to emphasise the importance of clinicians in the field being able to determine the most appropriate test for their patients and that this should not be directed by a limited MBS descriptor.  We are seeking the assistance and involvement of ANZSNM / AANMS members with this by asking local Directors of Cardiology who they work with to support this advocacy effort. This would involve co-signing a letter raising these concerns written by the cardiologist as noted above. If you are able to talk with your local referrers to see if they would be willing to be co-signatories, please provide the relevant contact for your local Director of Cardiology to secretariat@anzsnm.org.au.

We would ask that you also approach your Cardiology Director and provide names and contacts of them by Tuesday 17 November. We will coordinate with the AANMS to ensure there is cohesion and not duplication.

To make it clear, the changes asked for are to give the referrer the option to choose, not to enforce the primacy of one modality over the other. This is a very important matter for all professionals as it is about making it clear to Government that those best placed to determine the best management for their individual patients are those working in the profession.

Thank you for your assistance and taking the time to read this important matter impacting our profession. 

Daniel Badger
President