The Australian Society of Anaesthetists (ASA) has been hard at work trying to improve anaesthesia items in the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS).  However, many of their arguments appear to have fallen on deaf ears at the Department of Health and Ageing (DHA), where concerns seem to be primarily about reducing Medicare expenditure rather than improving clinical outcomes.

The DHA has apparently proposed to cease all funding for item 55054 by anaesthetists in association with MBS nerve block and vascular access items.  Although the actual date has not been confirmed for this change, it appears likely that the item descriptor will be amended from 1st May, 2011 to reflect the change in funding.

An excellent summary of the developments has been written by Mark Sinclair (Chair of the ASA Economics Advisory Committee) and should be available to ASA members in the March edition of ASA News.

And if you’re not a member of the ASA?  It might be the time to consider joining