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    November 20

Lung Foundation Australia News – Supporting Medicare Subsidies for Pulmonary Rehabilitation

Lung Foundation Australia has applied to the Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC) for pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) programs and follow-up pulmonary maintenance exercise (PME) programs for patients with COPD and other chronic lung diseases to be subsidised on the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS).

The Lung Foundation lodged its application with MSAC in December 2014. The draft protocol is currently under review by the Protocol Advisory Sub-committee (PASC) and is expected to be open for public comment from 5 October 2015 for a period of six weeks.

Current situation:

  • There is no national funding mechanism for pulmonary rehabilitation in the community, despite evidence that it can be provided safely in a community setting with appropriately skilled physiotherapists and/or exercise physiologists.
  • Access to pulmonary rehabilitation is limited – approximately 260 programs are available throughout Australia to service a potential patient population of approximately 750,000.
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation is conducted mainly in the hospital and health service setting and is limited mostly to urban and larger regional settings.


  • Together with smoking cessation pulmonary rehabilitation is one of the most evidence-based interventions with NH&MRC Level I&II evidence to support its benefits [COPD-X Guidelines]. The number needed to treat (NNT) to avoid one hospital admission (for post exacerbation/flare up of symptoms) is 4
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation is effective in improving patients’ quality of life and reducing health care costs, mainly through reduced hospital admissions and length of hospital stay.
  • Due to the known benefits for preventing hospital readmissions, pulmonary rehabilitation is recommended (and in some states, mandated) following discharge of patients who have been hospitalised with an acute exacerbation of COPD.

When the time comes for public comment on the protocol, if you would like to support this application you may do so by submitting a feedback form to the PASC committee.  Our application number is 1405. Any support would be most appreciated.