MSAC Terms of Reference

Page last updated: 13 April 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 Medical Benefits Schedule (MBS) or other programmes (for example, blood products or screening programmes) are also considered by MSAC.

For further information,please refer to What is MSAC?

Roles and function

MSAC is to:
  • Advise the Minister for Health on medical services including those that involve new or emerging technologies and procedures and, where relevant, amendment to existing MBS items, in relation to:
    • the strength of evidence in relation to the comparative safety, effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and total cost of the medical service;
    • whether public funding should be supported for the medical service and, if so, the circumstances under which public funding should be supported;
    • the proposed MBS item descriptor and fee for the service where funding through the MBS is supported;
    • other matters related to the public funding of health services referred by the Minister.
  • Advise the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council (AHMAC) on health technology assessments referred under AHMAC arrangements.
MSAC may also establish sub-committees to assist MSAC to effectively undertake its role. MSAC may delegate some of its functions to its Executive sub-committee.


MSAC’s size and composition is to be determined by the Minister for Health. MSAC’s composition is drawn from a wide range of experts constituted from time to time to address the likely type of applications for the committee’s consideration.

Membership appointments are generally for four year terms. Appointments may be staggered to allow for continuity of the committee. Members may serve on the head committee (MSAC), and/or any of its sub-committees or ad-hoc working groups. MSAC may also co-opt non-members to its sub-committees or working groups.

Members sign Deed of Confidentiality and Conflict of Interest Declarations upon appointment, and are required to declare potential, perceived or actual conflicts for each meeting/issue being addressed. The Chair will agree if and how an actual or potential conflict of interest needs to be managed.


To enable a MSAC meeting to proceed, half the number of members plus one is required. Similarly, a MSAC decision, either in or out of session, requires a majority vote in favour of the resolution (MSAC’s advice to the Minister). Members may abstain from voting. In the event of a tied vote, the Chair has the casting vote.

Meeting schedule

MSAC usually meets up to four times per year. Sub-committees and working groups may meet more frequently. Business may also be conducted out of session, usually via email or teleconference/videoconference, with face-to-face meetings held where/when required.


The rationale for MSAC’s advice to the Minister (or AHMAC where the matter has been referred through AHMAC arrangements) is provided on the MSAC website.

Members are required to endorse the advice and Minutes of Meetings within the stipulated timeframes. Information about recommendations and the rationale for the advice are included in the public dissemination of the outcomes (both in hard copy and on the MSAC website), as soon as possible after the meeting at which a proposal is considered.

Members are also required to participate in sub-committees and/or other ad-hoc working groups as determined by the MSAC Executive from time to time.


MSAC reports to the Minister of Health