The Medical Services Advisory Committee’s (MSAC) advice to the Minister for Health is made public by a Public Summary Document (PSD) that explains the rationale for MSAC’s advice to the Minister.
Unlike the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) and the Prosthesis Listing Advisory Committee (PLAC), application forms submitted to the Department of Health (Department) are made public. The submitted application form will be published as they are submitted to the Department, unless the Applicant and the Department have formally agreed that particular information in the report is confidential and components can be redacted. Any agreed errors of fact will be published separately as an errata. Where the Department has agreed to treat specified information as confidential, Applicants will have an opportunity to comment on a modified version of the PSD (with confidential material redacted).
Documents in the possession of the Department are subject to the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 which means that the Department may be required to grant access to documents in its possession.
Even if a document is considered commercial-in-confidence, access under this Act may not be denied. The Department is required to consult with the author of the document when that document appears to have commercial-in-confidence material, and take the author’s views into account when deciding to grant or not grant access to documents.
Confidential materialIt is accepted that documents submitted throughout the MSAC process may contain information the Applicant believes is confidential.
However, these claims will be agreed to by the Department on a case-by-case basis, in line with current Government policies (these include, but are not limited to, statistical data and positions of trust classifications).
In any claim for confidentiality, the Applicant will be asked to state the basis on which the claim for confidentiality is being made. Further information on the relevant Government policies is available at Australian Governments Solicitors - Legal Briefing - number 64 - "Identifying and Protecting Confidential Information" webpage, located at http://www.ags.gov.au/publications/legal-briefing/br64.htm.
Please note that the Application Form will be disseminated to professional bodies / organisations and consumer organisations that have been identified in Part 5 of the Application Form, and any additional groups that the Department has deemed should be consulted with. This will occur after suitability of the proposed medical service has been determined. The application form, with relevant material may be redacted if requested by the Applicant.
Please note that MSAC may as part of its roles and functions, on occasion, be asked to provide advice on the suitability for public funding of a therapeutic or a service (or similar) which could be delivered in a public hospital or funded through a mechanism other than the Medicare Benefits Scheme (for example a blood product for funding under the National Blood Arrangements or a public hospital in-patient service funded via the National Health Reform Arrangements).
In these cases, it may become necessary for the Department to share information submitted to MSAC, and/or from Department commissioned evaluation reports, and/or from the records of deliberations of MSAC or its subcommittees, with state and territory health departments. The shared information may include information the Applicant believes is confidential. If it becomes necessary to share information in this way, the Department will advise the applicant in writing at least 5 business days in advance of providing the information to the other entities.
Prior to the commencement of these new arrangements, the Department will seek assurances from the entities with whom it is sharing information in relation to information the Applicant believes is confidential.
At the time information is shared, the Department will notify the entities receiving the shared information that the shared information contains information the Applicant believes is confidential and which must not be made public.
Further, the application form will also be placed on the application’s individual webpage on the MSAC website for interested stakeholders to provide comment at any stage of the MSAC process after suitability has been determined.