According to the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), based on new data from the Cleanbill Health of the Nation Report, an inadequate Medicare rebate has rendered healthcare in Australia more and more out of reach.
Following years of Medicare patient rebate freezes and moderate increases, it has been found that just 35.1% of surveyed general practices bulk bill all new patients. Moreover, this has been made worse by mounting worries about how much more payroll taxes practices will have to pay as a result of including tenant GPs' salaries among taxable compensation at clinics. Read more about the increased payroll tax article here.
According to Cleanbill, it contacted each of the 6,363 general practices listed in Australia to find out if they were accepting new patients and to find out whether basic consultations (Medicare item 23) could be bulk billed as well as the cost if it was possible. The information was categorised by electorate and state or territory.
Additionally, Tasmania and the ACT only have bulk billing rates for all new general practice patients of 6.9% and 5.5%, respectively, based on information from clinics that responded. At 49%, New South Wales is in first place overall.
Furthermore, Fairfax in Queensland, Franklin in Tasmania, Newcastle in NSW, and Mayo in South Australia were listed by Cleanbill as having no practices that bulk bill all new patients. Seven more were listed with just one. The total number of electorates with five or fewer clinics that could offer bulk billing to all new patients was 44, or almost a third of federal seats.
According to Dr. Nicole Higgins, RACGP President, the results demonstrated the price of years of general practice negligence. She believes that the country needs a system that can support GPs in providing better, inexpensive but quality service to patients while receiving reasonable rebates.
Western Australians Urged to Get Influenza Shot
In order to increase vaccination rates, the government has launched a campaign, and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is urging Western Australians to schedule appointments with their general practitioners.
In the 2023 Expanded Influenza Program, free flu vaccines will be given for free this whole May by the Western Australian Government. Additionally, for patients aged 12-64 who are ineligible for the free National Immunisation Program (NIP) vaccination, this program includes reimbursement funds for practices to operate flu clinics with additional staff in 2023.
According to Dr. Ramya Raman, RACGP WA Chair, this will significantly improve the lives of patients in WA and free up general practitioners to focus on what they do best: ensuring that patients receive the necessary care, such as vital immunisations.
Apart from the flu vaccine, everyone is also encouraged to get the Covid-19 shot and booster doses. These vaccines are one of the best ways to protect not just oneself, but everyone else in the community.
$220M Funding for Infrastructure Projects for Australia’s Rural and Remote Areas
The ACRRM applauds the Commonwealth Government's announcement of a $220 million Strengthening Medicare - General Practice Grants Program, noting that it will support general practice and improve healthcare for rural and remote regions.
The grants program is intended to assist qualifying Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organizations and general practices in making investments in personnel development, equipment purchases, and small capital improvements.
According to Dr. Dan Halliday, ACRRM President, general practices haven't received grant funds for infrastructure initiatives to enhance their buildings and services in a while. The program’s primary objectives are to improve digital health capability and modernise infection prevention and control systems for all practices, regardless of size—projects that ACRRM has pushed for.
The ACRRM has long urged the government to make investments in the development of robust, enduring, and sustainable health services in rural, remote, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander areas.
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