In relation to this FactCheck, The Conversation asked Pathology Australia for comment.
Its president, Nick Musgrave, said:
Our member organisations perform approximately 70% of pathology testing within the private sector.
Decisions regarding billing practices are made by individual Pathology providers. The viability of the pathology sector and the ability to maintain current high levels of bulk billing involves either the maintenance of current funding levels or a regulatory environment which will control excessive costs and waste within the sector. The Regulatory changes announced by the Coalition to control excessive rents for pathology collection rooms will enable providers to more readily maintain current billing practices as would the maintenance of current funding. In the absence of either of these measures providers had indicated they would not have been able maintain current high levels of bulk billing.
Australia currently has one of the highest quality and most accessible Pathology services in the world. Pathology Australia will continue to work with the Government to ensure this remains the case. Pathology Australia doesn’t represent Diagnostic Imaging and we can’t comment on fees for scans or other radiology.
Without measures to address waste and excessive costs within the sector, the cut to funding would have led to reduced levels of bulk billing.
The continuation of current funding or the introduction of measures to effectively control waste caused by excessive rents for collection rooms will more readily enable providers to maintain current billing practices and maintain access to pathology testing regardless of the providers membership of PA.
I’ll refer you to the PA media release following the Government’s announcement here.
The Coalition has announced that they will clarify existing regulations that were introduced with bipartisan support in 2007 so that the Regulations, which have not been able to be enforced, will be effective. In addition, for an accurate analysis of the productivity dividend provided by the Australian Pathology sector, I refer you to a report by Ernst and Young released recently which is here
For the purposes of any discussion on Australian pathology it is important to acknowledge that some of the larger organisations that provide pathology services have a variety of different revenue sources including in some cases from overseas operations. Pathology is a highly capital intensive service with high fixed costs. Superficial assessments based on only overall revenue do not accurately reflect the difficulties that currently exist within the pathology sector in Australia.
Authors: Sunanda Creagh, Editor, The Conversation