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Nurses and midwives to access Medicare.

Nurses and midwives may get greater direct billing access to Medicare, particularly where doctors are in short supply, under reforms currently being considered by the Federal Government.

Health Minister Nicola Roxon believes this is one option worth canvassing in the government's current review of the complex schedule of fees paid to medical practitioners under Medicare.

The review is now being extended to include the longer-term debate over what 'non-medical assistance' the Medicare schedule should include.

Ms Roxon said that while GPs have a key role coordinating care for patients, nurses and allied health professionals could be viable alternatives where doctors are in short supply.

In an attempt to get high quality services more equally distributed across the country, the Minister is considering allowing a number of professional allied health service providers (including nurses) to provide scheduled health services in certain circumstances.

The move may further sour relations between the Federal Government and the AMA, which is out-of-joint over the proposed national registration scheme for doctors; the exclusion of the AMA from the national ideas summit; and the $220 million pledge to set up super clinics that place doctors on a more level pegging with nurses, dietitians and other health professionals as members of a 'health team'.

Ms Roxon believes the review of the schedule should ultimately benefit nurses, midwives and GPs and that there should be a better balance between the way the government pays for preventative care and procedural medicine, such as tests and surgery.
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Publication:The Lamp
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:May 1, 2008
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