A doctor checks on Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France during a medical timeout in play in his men's singles match against Kevin Anderson of South Africa at the Australian Open 2014 tennis tournament in Melbourne January 17, 2014. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

The Australian Medical Association has lashed out at the Medicare review that was announced by the Coalition on Sunday. They are calling it a direct attack on the integrity of the medical profession.

The Medicare review was launched by Health Minister Sussan Ley to review about 5,700 items on the Medicare Benefits Schedule. Only 3 percent of all the items were assessed to see whether they are out-of-date, still functioning or harmful.

“It’s definitely not about winners and losers,” Ley told reporters on Sunday. “It’s about patient safety. It’s about building the best possible health system for the 21st century.”

Dr Brian Owler, the president of the AMA, said that the latest conclusion by Medicare, that the doctors are using the agency as a cash cow, is completely unacceptable.

“This is a direct attack on the integrity of the medical profession. It is an approach that undermines the confidence that patients have in their doctors. It’s unacceptable,” The Guardian quoted Owler as saying on Sunday.

Owler also said that AMA had signed up for a review of the doctors’ remuneration for MBS service, hoping it would recover the money lost when the government dropped its General Practitioner co-payment from the budget.

No discussion on future health policy has yet been tabled in the new cabinet and Ley dismissed suggestions that Treasurer Scott Morrison had asked her to consider the AU$70 billion health portfolio for cost cutting.

Owler is of the opinion that the move is nothing but an effort to reduce costing in the health sector by compromising on the health of the patients. Ley admitted that even though savings would be considered from the review, it is not the main agenda.

Catherine King, the spokesperson for Labor, recognised the need for reviewing some of the items but said that the overall nature of the consultation is questionable.

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