ALP Announcement – discontinuing Private Health Insurance Rebates for Natural Therapies.

ALP Announcement – discontinuing Private Health Insurance Rebates for Natural Therapies.

General, Government, Health Funds, Industry

By now, you will be aware that the ALP has announced that it will remove natural therapies from the Private Health Insurance Rebate scheme, based on the review of evidence to support the clinical efficacy of natural therapies, conducted by the Chief Medical Officer in 2014, with a resulting report in 2015.

At this stage it is unclear how the ALP policy will affect massage or myotherapy, or if the Private Health funds will discontinue coverage of rehabilitation massage, particularly in the area of work injury recovery.

While the NLP solution to the burgeoning public health bill is to steer or encourage greater use of private health insurance, the ALP solution is, where possible, to withdraw support from Private Health and steer this money back into Medicare.

In this context, the ALP policy continues the Coalition policy, which reduced total rebates for individuals from $400 to $100 per year as part of many measures undertaken to keep health costs down for the federal government, which include the freezing of Medicare rebates for bulk billing GP.

AAMT’s Response

In the months prior to the announcement of the election, AAMT has provided briefing papers to the major political parties.  AAMT continues to seek to clarify how this policy if effected, applies to the sector and our members.

Importantly to begin addressing the concerns raised in the PHIR Report, the sector must demonstrate more clearly the clinical benefit of massage, remedial massage and myotherapy and the professionalism of therapists.

Unfortunately, unscrupulous therapists who abused the Rebate system through fraudulent claims eroded the credibility of the massage sector. The ongoing issues in the sector of sexual assault, rape and abuse by both qualified and unqualified practitioners and those participating in unlicensed sexual services remain at the forefront of the sectors problems and media exposure.

To be taken seriously, as a valuable health sector service this image needs to change. This is one of the primary reasons the AAMT initiated the new Quality Assurance Accreditation and Certification scheme because it will help to:

  • rebuild and maintain the confidence of Private Health Insurers (PHIs) and health stakeholders that the massage sector can take responsibility for and provide a reliable quality assurance system without the burden of costs attributed to government statutory regulation.
  • provide a reliable, consistent and transparent process for Funds to vet therapists for eligibility as Health Providers instead of each fund developing their own scheme and offender Association hopping.

Importantly, to do this the scheme:

  • supports and encourages informed consumer choice when selecting a therapist
  • upholds formal recognition of compliance with an industry Code of Ethics; conformity to a Best Practice Standard; and recognition of appropriate AQF qualifications. Provides a transparent, consistent process collecting industry data to build a clearer and stronger view of the sector
  • provides protection of practice for Accredited massage therapists through copyright and trademarking
  • differentiates qualified massage therapists from those with poor training or no training
  • creates a universal and independent standard for the sector.

In terms of key stakeholders such as the Government and Private Health Funds, AAMT has approached and will continue to collaborate with a number of key stakeholders to recognise and adopt the Certification scheme.

A national, improved quality assurance program that is recognised by health stakeholders and community is in the interests of therapists, consumers and Associations across Australia.

Accreditation puts your future in your hands rather than in the hands of government and private health funds where we continually find ourselves on the defence against changes instead of an offence to drive change in a positive way for the sector.