What is MSAC?

Page last updated: 20 July 2016

The Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC) is an independent non-statutory committee established by the Australian Government Minister for Health in 1998.

MSAC appraises new medical services proposed for public funding, and provides advice to Government on whether a new medical service should be publicly funded (and if so, its circumstances) on an assessment of its comparative safety, clinical effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and total cost, using the best available evidence. Amendments and reviews of existing services funded on the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) or other programmes (for example, blood products or screening programmes) are also considered by MSAC.

The MSAC also advises the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council (AHMAC) on health technology assessments referred under AHMAC arrangements.

The MSAC is supported by two sub-committees, the PICO Advisory Sub-committee (PASC) and the Evaluation Sub-committee (ESC). MSAC and its sub-committees are further supported by clinical experts and Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Groups who provide a range of assessment, review and research support services to the Department.

MSAC is a ministerially appointed committee with membership periods that are staggered to reduce operational impact for future changes. MSAC and its sub-committees are comprised of members from a wide range of clinical disciplines and from fields of health that include health economics, evidence based health care, health policy, and consumers. Members may serve on MSAC, and/or any of its sub-committees. As MSAC is a non-statutory committee, there is no obligation on Government to accept or implement the advice MSAC provides.

Terms of Reference

MSAC advises the Minister for Health on whether a new medical service should be publicly funded based on an assessment of its comparative safety, effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and total cost, using the best available evidence.

MSAC Appraisal

Following MSAC’s consideration of a proposal, the Department of Health is required to consider the financial impact to Government, consult with relevant stakeholders, seek Cabinet agreement and draft and implement legislative change(s) to amend or add an item to the MBS.

MSAC’s role in the Medicare Benefits Schedule

If a medical service is not covered under the MBS, applications can be made to the Department for MSAC to consider whether the service warrants public funding. This process ensures that Australians have access to medical services that have been shown to be safe and clinically effective, as well as representing value-for-money for both patients and taxpayers.

Further, the role of MSAC complements other Australian Government supported initiatives to ensure that Australians have access and receive the best possible health care services.

While most applicants to MSAC are seeking reimbursement under the MBS, MSAC is not restricted to providing advice around MBS funding. MSAC also promotes advice in regards to non MBS funding where relevant.