Topics: $200 million to reduce out of pocket costs for scans; Dental
Out-of-pocket costs for procedures including ultrasounds, x-rays, are expected to fall.
It’s ending a 20-year freeze on Medicare payments – 20 years for radiology services – and the Government are announcing rebates which are due for an annual rise for about 90 per cent of all diagnostic imaging services.
So, I caught up with the Health Minister just before I started this morning, and I asked him – because you know I’m a nuts and bolts man – exactly how much will we save?
Well, $200 million all up is the amount we’re investing and we’re expecting that to come off the costs.
In the case of MRIs, what we’re seeing is where there’s bulk billing, such as coming into Queen Elizabeth Hospital, that could be an out-of-pocket reduction of between $200 and $400 depending on the particular hospital around the country.
Where I was yesterday in Melbourne, the hospital said that they’re reducing their out-of-pockets for the MRIs by up to $400.
So when does this happen?
So the MRIs are immediately; the x-rays and the ultrasounds will be at 1 July 2020 and so they’re.
Why does it have to wait until next year?
Simply a case of what we’ve been able to work out with the diagnostic providers.
So, as I say, the MRIs are immediately; the ultrasound and x-rays are part of the broader package where for the first time actually in 20 years, nobody, when Bill Shorten was in government or even in previous government, had done this since 1998.
So, that’s a pretty significant step forward. But we’re doing it as well for things such as mammography, fluoroscopy, CT – what are called the interventional scan…
So a very, very broad range in significant action.
What do you think of the idea from the Grattan Institute, who is calling for a universal dental care scheme, and they are saying that it would cost an extra $5.6 billion a year and they’re also saying that it could be paid for in part by a rise in the Medicare levy.
How do you feel about that?
So it is a very, very expensive scheme that they’re proposing.
The advice that I have is that the $5.6 billion a year is probably an understatement.
But even if we took at that – $22 billion over four years with a major hike in taxes.
So, remember the Opposition introduced a half a per cent rise in taxes when they were in government and then bitterly oppose in such an idea now; we were able to pay for the NDIS without that rise in taxes.
Mr Shorten wants to add to the income tax, the capital gains tax, the electricity tax with another tax and I think he better be clear on that. But it’s- on the Grattan Institute’s costing – a $22 billion increase over four years – but we think that that’s probably significantly understated.
So are we really saying, Minister, that there’s no scheme that we can introduce which would help people with their dental issues?
Because we underestimate – and you would’ve had this advice – that many of the problems people get in their mouth end up in their gut and they get very sick.
So, this is something that- and of course not only that, there’s people who have been waiting for dental procedures for some time. So is their nothing that can be done?
Oh, no. There are absolutely things that can be done.
For example, one of the very first decisions I took was to increase the Child Dental Benefits scheme amount from $700 to $1000 so a very, very significant increase.
What we’re also saved – so more than 40 per cent on the claimable amount – what we’ve also done is strike agreements with the states on public dental waiting lists and to provide funds for those, and we have more coming in the coming weeks as part of the budget process.
So, there are absolutely things that we can do. The question is whether a $22 billion system is actually going to deliver a good outcome because we saw Labor had- we had something along these lines in government under the Howard government – the Chronic Dental Benefit Scheme- Chronic Dental Disease Benefit Scheme – and Labor, believe it or not, axed it when they were in government.
They made a billion dollar saving off dental because they said it was unsustainable.
That’s Health Minister Greg Hunt.