Government extends financial disadvantage to patients
2nd October 2020
Government extends financial disadvantage to patients under the Nurse Practitioner Collaborative Arrangements
Back in July 2010, the then Minister for Health and Ageing, Nicola Roxon signed the National Health (Collaborative arrangements for Nurse Practitioners) Determination 2010. This Collaborative Arrangement for Nurse Practitioners specified that an eligible Nurse Practitioner must name of at least 1 specified medical practitioner who is/or will be collaborating with the Nurse Practitioner in the patient’s care. This enabled the patient to receive a Medicare Rebate and have some access to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. For 10 years now, Nurse Practitioners and their patients have operated under this legislation, with patients bearing the considerably higher costs.
“Nurse Practitioners have been working under these restrictions for over 10 years. These restrictions discriminate against the most vulnerable of patients, restrict a Nurse Practitioners ability to practice, do not contribute to safety or quality of care, and perpetuate anti-competitive behaviour. Their expiry is overdue.” said Leanne Boase, Australian College of Nurse Practitioners (ACNP) President. Where there is only access to a Nurse Practitioner, such as in rural and remote areas, the patient pays more for health care. This also does not protect the patient’s right to choose.
This legislation was finally due to expire on the 1st October 2020, and this out-dated legislation would no longer be enforced. However, on the evening of 29th September, ACNP President, Leanne Boase discovered by chance that an extension to the expiry had been applied for 2 years, meaning that Collaborative Arrangements will now continue until 2nd October 2022.
“This extension is very disappointing and incensing. To date, we have not received any notification of the extension, not to the ACNP, not to any Nurse Practitioner and not to any of our patients affected. There was no indication that this legislation would be extended, nor had there been any change on the Australian Government website leading up to the expiry. It is plainly unacceptable that a Government can continue these arrangements without notice, completely ignoring the evidence, and effectively supporting discrimination and anti-competitive behaviour. Once again Nurse Practitioners will have to continue the fight for equal care for our patients.” said Ms Boase.
ACNP President, Leanne Boase stated “it defies belief that the Government is seeking to continue to disadvantage patients and increase restrictions on health care workers at this time, during a crisis in Aged Care and the COVID-19 pandemic. Here we are, trying to help with the response, yet we are needing to divert attention and fight this yet again. This is not good enough for our patients. The Collaborative Arrangements for Nurse Practitioners are solely related to the right of the patient to claim a MBS rebate, or receive a PBS subsidy, thereby penalising the patient for their choice to see a Nurse Practitioner, with the most disadvantaged of our community members left most vulnerable. We are calling on the Government to immediately:
- Remove the Collaborative Arrangements.
- Stop the disadvantage for our patients via the Medicare Benefits Scheme (MBS) and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and commit to working with us, and within a reasonable time frame.
- Improve communication with the public and the health professions.
Nurse Practitioners will continue to stand up in the interests of their patients and those who choose to see a Nurse Practitioner. For them we will not compromise.
For questions or interviews, please contact Sara Carter on 0418 580 241.
Notes to Editors:
The Australian College of Nurse Practitioners (ACNP) is the peak body for NPs nationally with more than 1,200 NPs and Advanced Practice Nurses across the country, including rural and remote areas of Australia. The strategic leadership is provided by a group of NPs practicing in both public and private settings who understand Nurse Practitioners are intent on maintaining the patient at the centre of quality health care.
For more information download this document