AMA President, Dr Andrew Pesce, said today that persistent AMA lobbying
and working with Government had resulted in important changes to the Health
Insurance Amendment (Compliance) Bill 2009, which was introduced in Parliament
The Bill gives Medicare Australia the
power to obtain documents from doctors to substantiate Medicare rebates, which
includes handing over private and personal patient details if necessary as
evidence for auditing of Medicare claims.
Dr Pesce said the AMA has succeeded in
ensuring that only medical practitioners employed by Medicare Australia can
view those records.
"Under the earlier draft Bill proposed
by the Government, these personal clinical records would have been seen by
administrative staff", Dr Pesce said.
"The AMA has been relentless in
protecting patient privacy and preserving the confidentiality of the
"We pushed for a Senate Inquiry and the Senate agreed that there needed to be specific measures to ensure that patient clinical records would only be accessed when absolutely necessary.
"The Bill before Parliament now
contains a number of safeguards sought by the AMA to protect the privacy of patient records during audits by Medicare Australia."
Dr Pesce commended Human Services
Minister, Chris Bowen, for also addressing other concerns raised by the AMA in
regards to the original Bill.
"Audits of Medicare billing will only
be in cases where Medicare Australia has a reasonable concern. Audits
will not be random.
"Doctors will have the right to seek an
internal review of audit decisions instead of using Federal Court processes as
"We must now ensure that the changes do
not impose any extra red tape on medical practitioners as part of the audit
process, Dr Pesce said.