Plas­tic sur­geons’ tummy rum­bles

South­ern Gazette

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - NEWS - Jaime Shurmer

On July 5, the pub­lished the story of the plight of Vic­to­ria Park res­i­dent Ruth Unni, who can­not af­ford to have a tummy tuck due to the $20,000 bill she could be slapped with if she went un­der the knife. Her pri­vate health will not cover the surgery if it is not el­i­gi­ble for a Medi­care re­bate. The surgery was rec­om­mended to ease her se­vere back pain, rem­edy an ex­ist­ing her­nia and cyst, and pre­vent fu­ture her­nias by clos­ing a 5cm mus­cle sep­a­ra­tion caused by a pre­vi­ous preg­nancy. But the new Medi­care cri­te­ria cater only for peo­ple who have been obese and have ex­cess skin af­ter los­ing a lot of weight. New item num­bers cover peo­ple who have had large tu­mours re­moved. FED­ERAL Health Min­is­ter Sus­san Ley failed to an­swer ques­tions by the South­ern Gazette re­gard­ing calls by plas­tic sur­geons for a re­view of the new Medi­care cri­te­ria for tummy tucks.

From Jan­uary 1, Medi­care ex­cluded post-par­tum women from item num­ber 30177.

The Aus­tralian So­ci­ety of Plas­tic Sur­geons also claims its calls for a meet­ing with Ms Ley have been re­buffed. The So­ci­ety is lob­by­ing for med­i­cally in­di­cated tummy tucks to some­how be cov­ered again by Medi­care.

It hopes Ms Ley will ap­peal over the in­de­pen­dent Med­i­cal Ser­vices Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee’s (MSAC)

But a spokes­woman for the fed­eral Depart­ment of Health told the Gazette that if more ev­i­dence re­gard­ing ab­domino­plasty’s ben­e­fits be­comes avail­able, then the MSAC pro­cesses or MBS Re­view Task­force would be the most ap­pro­pri­ate Ruth Unni. de­ci­sion. way to con­sider a case for a new item.

In a let­ter to Ms Ley and copied to Se­na­tor Michaelia Cash on May 6, So­ci­ety coun­cil­lor Daniel Kennedy de­scribed the Medi­care changes in re­la­tion to item 30177 as a “ma­jor mis­take on the part of the Health Depart­ment”.

In its let­ter, the Aus­tralian So­ci­ety of Plas­tic Sur­geons said the Lipec­tomy Re­view Work­ing Group rec­om­mended post-par­tum women be in­cluded, but this was over­ruled at the MSAC level.

Ac­cord­ing to the MSAC web­site, there had been a large in­crease in claims for lipec­tomy ser­vices pri­mar­ily per­formed on women aged 35-54 years, and re­search was of low level and qual­ity, which did not pro­vide suf­fi­cient in­for­ma­tion about the ef­fec­tive­ness, safety and qual­ity of lipec­tomy.

Ques­tions sent by the Gazette to the in­de­pen­dent Med­i­cal Ser­vices Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee and Ms Ley were re­sponded to by a spokes­woman for the Fed­eral Depart­ment of Health, and were partly ad­dressed.

“It is un­der­stand­able that some pa­tients may feel up­set by the amend­ments to MBS-funded lipec­tomy ser­vices, but MSAC’s rec­om­men­da­tions were based on the avail­able ev­i­dence,” she said, on July 20.

Min­is­te­rial staff met with the So­ci­ety on Jan­uary 21. No meet­ing was ar­ranged with Ms Ley.

The Gazette was told by the Min­is­ter’s of­fice it sent a let­ter on June 20, in re­sponse to the So­ci­ety’s calls for a re­view.

The So­ci­ety’s James Savun­dra said plas­tic sur­geons field com­plaints from de­serv­ing pa­tients who could no longer have their di­var­ca­tions re­paired due to loss of in­sur­ance sta­tus. He strongly dis­cour­aged women trav­el­ling overseas for cheaper surgery.

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