MEDICARE has ordered a clinical psychologist to repay $200,000 in rebates claimed for treating mentally ill patients, exposing the agency to fresh allegations that it is acting unfairly in pursuing health workers for honest mistakes.
The Australian Clinical Psychology Association said it was concerned at the repayment order because of the circumstances of the case, which include claims by the psychologist concerned that Medicare had initially given her approval for her claiming behaviour before later changing its mind.
ACPA president Judy Hyde said the targeted psychologist - who had asked not to be identified - had originally been told it was acceptable to use her Medicare provider number to claim rebates for work done by junior psychologists whose work she was closely supervising, a ruling that Dr Hyde said was later reversed.
"Although Medicare has informed her that they don't believe she was attempting to rort the system, they still want to get the money back," Dr Hyde told The Australian.
Provided there has been no fraud or misrepresentation, if a provider gets approval for reimbursement, it seems only fair that they shouldn't be held responsible for the payer's error.