I have written in other posts about changes to the Victorian TAC including the introduction of Joint Medical Examiners. Joint Medical Examiners are Independent Medical Examiners who see claimants and prepare reports for both the TAC and plaintiff’s solicitors. Since the JME process has been implemented there have been a number of disputes including the fee schedule, the lack of coordination between the two parties leading to excessive documentation and questions and the distaste many IMEs have for the requirement that they must complete TAC documentation and receive TAC accreditation before they can participate in the process. The other issue, of course, is the potential for the TAC to veto some examiners.
There have been a number of changes in position by the TAC; the initial fee schedule was $1368.79 (including GST) with an extra payment of $150 including GST in the transition period that was to expire on 1 January 2015. Subsequently since the legislation refers only to paying “a reasonable fee” the TAC agreed that JMEs could charge their usual fee until the end of the transition period. There was then consultation with a number of JMEs where complaints were made about several issues. This led to the establishment of the TAC/JME Reference Group, the transition period was extended to 1 April 2015 and rather than a single fee, a fee range was to be implemented. ($1231 -$1800 + GST).
The TAC/JME Reference Group has now met three times, it includes JMEs and representatives of the TAC and the Australian Lawyers Alliance. it has been agreed that the fee within the range above will be determined by the JME and will be paid automatically subject to the usual periodic reviews. There will be some leeway at the upper end of that range so that a fee that may be $300 or thereabouts above the top fee in the scheduled range will usually be paid automatically. JMEs will be provided with information about issues that are regarded as leading to complexity and the need for additional payments. This information will vary according to the different craft groups involved . There will be further meetings to explore cutting back on documentation, reducing document duplication and similarly cutting back on the number of questions asked.
Most of us have been surprised by the conciliatory stance taken by the TAC and are still crossing our fingers.