Following months of close consultation between Human Services Minister Senator Chris Ellison, Health Minister Tony Abbott and the AMA, the Government have announced a package to support medical practices in the transition to electronic Medicare claiming for patients.
Dr Capolingua said the package would assist to reimburse medical practices for the set up costs of installing the Easyclaim software and hardware and adapting their office management procedures, and make it easier for patients to claim their Medicare rebates.
"The AMA has been a strong supporter of the Medicare Easyclaim electronic claiming initiative ever since the idea was first floated," Dr Capolingua said.
"Our members have been closely involved in the development and the trials of the system, and we have pointed out the benefits and the faults along the way.
"The AMA is pleased that the package announced today reflects AMA input to the development of a claiming system that will greatly benefit patients.
"There are still some concerns around the amount of time taken for each transaction and the system's ability to fully integrate with existing software being used in medical practices, and these will need to be overcome if a widespread take-up of Easyclaim is to be achieved.
"We will cooperate with the Government to eliminate these glitches before the system is fully operational in March 2008."
The Government will provide medical practices with 18 cents for every electronic Medicare transaction - for Easyclaim patient claims and bulk-billed services. The AMA and the Government agreed that this was a way to recognise work previously done by Medicare Australia would now be undertaken by medical practices.
There will also be a one-off payment to medical practices to assist them set up Easyclaim equipment and software in their practices - $750 for metropolitan practices and $1000 for rural practices.
Dr Capolingua said the AMA welcomes the package and looks forward to working with the Government in fine-tuning Easyclaim and encouraging national take-up of the system in readiness for its formal national implementation in March next year.