Two very different ‘M’s, mandatory reporting for treating doctors and Medicare’s Shared Debt Recovery Scheme, are important issues which MIGA is at the forefront of dealing with through its advocacy work.
Treating doctor mandatory reporting
MIGA has been seeking changes to treating doctor mandatory reporting obligations.¹
Our efforts focus on removing impairment reporting obligations where they can be difficult to interpret and be a barrier to doctors seeking care. We believe risks to the public are best dealt with through professional and ethical reporting obligations.² We also sought a ‘reasonable excuse’ defence for a treating doctor who, in good faith, decides not to make a report and to improve Medical Board / AHPRA processes for doctors who are reported.
MIGA was in multiple rounds of consultation on national reform proposals, including an invitation to give evidence at a parliamentary hearing late last year.³
Changes have now been announced to treating doctor mandatory reporting (outside WA) for impairment, significant departures from expected practice and intoxication (including changing the reporting threshold from ‘substantial risk of harm’ to ‘risk of substantial harm’) and to extend reporting for sexual misconduct to include risks of it occurring. A date for these reforms to commence is yet to be set and guidelines are to be developed, with input from MIGA.
MIGA welcomes reforms to reporting thresholds, but believes more is needed, particularly a broader approach which deals with barriers to seeking care, uncertainties in whether to report and supporting doctors through Medical Board / AHPRA processes.
Medicare – shared debt recovery scheme
A new Medicare Shared Debt Recovery Scheme will commence in mid-2019.
Medicare will be able to apportion repayments for incorrect billing between doctors and entities which could have controlled or influenced incorrect billing, who stand to benefit (directly or indirectly) and where it is “fair and reasonable” to recover from them.
MIGA is now involved in consultation on scheme operation. Our focus is on ensuring individual cases are looked at on their merits, without pre-conceptions. As part of broader Medicare advocacy efforts, we emphasised the challenges doctors face in understanding complex Medicare requirements, and the need for improved education and ability for Medicare to explain and better clarify uncertain items.