MBS Review must increase physiotherapy access

17 November 2015

The Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) Review needs to address problems in Australia’s health system so that all Australians have equal and fair access, Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) President, Marcus Dripps announced today.

“Physiotherapy prevents surgery and reduces the nation’s costs of surgery and hospitalisation, yet the current MBS restricts physiotherapists’ early-intervention treatments and referrals,” Mr Dripps said.

“If the aim of the MBS Review is to modernise the schedule and improve health outcomes for Australians, it needs to incorporate recommendations from a range of health disciplines to ensure that early-intervention treatments for major health problems such as obesity, back pain and osteoarthritis are adequately subsidised.

“The APA also recommends that the MBS Review removes the current cookie-cutter rule which restricts people with chronic and complex diseases to just five sessions of treatment per referral.”

Mr Dripps said that Australians need a modernised approach to referrals, consultations and subsidies to ensure that everyone has equal access to a health care system that supports their wellbeing.

The APA called on the MBS Review to address barriers to physiotherapy that restrict referrals and treatment session limits in its submission, he said.

“All Australians deserve access to physiotherapy and it isn’t good enough that the current MBS prevents people living in isolated regions accessing subsidised physiotherapy consultations via new audio-visual technologies,” Mr Dripps said.

“The APA strongly recommends that the review takes a system-wide approach to its proposed changes to stop people from falling through gaps in the health system and to instead bring it up-to-date with today consumers’ health care needs and new technologies.

Mr Dripps said that the APA welcomed the opportunity to take part in the MBS Review and in its submission it has pushed for a holistic, system-wide approach that removes:

  • barriers that prevent physiotherapists from referring patients to medical specialists
  • inequalities for some physiotherapist-referred diagnostic imaging, and
  • the requirement for patients’ attendance in consultations given that new technologies allow for audio-visual consultations when access to traditional services is not possible.

To find out more information, or to find a suitable physiotherapist, visit www.physiotherapy.asn.au

About the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA)

The APA is the peak body representing the interests of Australian physiotherapists and their patients. It is a national organisation with state and territory branches and specialty subgroups. The APA represents more than 19,000 members who conduct more than 23 million consultations each year. To find a physiotherapist in your area, visit www.physiotherapy.asn.au/

For further information, or to speak with an expert physiotherapist, please contact:
Ruth Heenan, Australian Physiotherapy Association
T 03 9092 0813, 0416 565 332 E Ruth.Heenan@physiotherapy.asn.au