Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Some Further Thoughts On The Abbott GP Go-Payment Nonsense. What A Load Of Rubbish.

Just a few observations I feel need to be made on the Government announcement.

Here it is to start with.

A Strong and Sustainable Medicare

The $7 Medicare co-payment measure announced in the 2014-15 Budget will no longer proceed.
Page last updated: 09 December 2014
PDF printable version of A Strong and Sustainable Medicare - PDF 244 KB

Joint Press Release


The Hon. Tony Abbott MP
Prime Minister

The Hon. Peter Dutton MP
Minister for Health


9 December 2014

The $7 Medicare co-payment measure announced in the 2014-15 Budget will no longer proceed.

The Government will instead implement a package of measures that will strengthen Medicare and help make it sustainable, ensuring Australians will continue to have access to affordable, world-class health care.

The Government has listened to the views of the community.

This new package ensures the Government can make Medicare sustainable, improve the quality of care for patients and continue its repair of the Budget.

The Medicare rebate paid to doctors for some consultations will be reduced by $5 and the troublesome issue of ‘six minute medicine’ will be addressed by encouraging doctors to spend more time with patients.

Optional co-payment and protection for patients


A new optional co-payment will be introduced for GP services with additional protections for patients.

The Government will not impose a co-payment on GP services provided to pensioners, Commonwealth concession card holders, all children under the age of 16, veterans funded through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, attendances at residential aged care facilities and pathology and diagnostic imaging services.

Incentives paid to doctors to encourage them to bulk bill concession card holders and children under the age of 16 will also remain.

Medicare rebates for common GP consultations will be reduced by $5 for non-concessional patients aged 16 and over from 1 July 2015.

Doctors may choose to recoup the $5 rebate reduction through an optional co-payment or continue to bulk bill non-concessional patients over the age of 16.

Doctors will be under no obligation to charge the co-payment and this decision will be entirely at their discretion.

Improving patient outcomes by tackling ‘six minute medicine’


In a further move to streamline Medicare and improve quality outcomes, the Government will make changes to standard GP consultation items which currently provide the same Medicare rebate for a six minute consultation as for a 19 minute consultation.

This change will ensure that Medicare expenditure more accurately reflects the time a GP spends with a patient.

It encourages a shift away from ‘six minute medicine’ so that appropriate, comprehensive care is better rewarded over patient throughput.

Additionally Medicare fees for all services provided by GPs, medical specialists, allied health practitioners, optometrists and others will remain at their current level until July 2018.

Making Medicare Sustainable and the Medical Research Future Fund


The Government is committed to taking these prudent measures to protect Medicare.

Medicare will not survive in the long term without changes to make it sustainable.

In the last decade spending on Medicare has more than doubled from $8 billion in 2004 to $20 billion today, yet we raise only $10 billion from the Medicare levy. Spending is projected to climb to $34 billion in the next decade to 2024.

In the last year alone, 275 million services were provided free to patients. That’s three out of every four Medicare services being bulk billed.

These changes will contribute more than $3 billion to the Medical Research Future Fund which will fund the research needed to find cures to the health problems of today.

In six years the returns from the MRFF will provide a billion dollars to be invested in medical research annually – doubling our national funding commitments to researchers.

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Here is the link:

http://www.health.gov.au/internet/ministers/publishing.nsf/Content/health-mediarel-yr2014-dutton111.htm

1. The claim is that 8 million people are spared from extra cost under the new plan - this of course means that 15.7 million are not. This is 66% are caught and 33% are not.

2. It is fundamental to the quality of the health system that primary care is well funded and supported. This plan goes in the other direction and is evidence free non rational policy in my view.

3. Can you really imagine that doctors will have stop watches to check they are taking 10 minutes and not 9 min 58 seconds with a consult so that can get the difference between $11 and $35 or so for a consult.

4. Limiting consults to 48 10 mins per working day will ensure a great deal of waiting!

5. I think Nick Xenophon was on the money suggesting that Mr Abbott / Dutton have just made every surgery in the country into a campaign office and not for the Liberal Party.

6. I really think it is inevitable bulk billing rates will collapse and the large clinics will now start charging a lot more than $5.

7. The self-funded chronically ill are unanticipated victims.

All in all this seems to me to be a desperate ploy and I suspect it will still get disallowed in the Senate.

It will be very interesting to see what the AMA GP Council comes up with at its meeting this evening.

Here is a useful link with a lot of reactions to the plan.

http://www.australianageingagenda.com.au/2014/12/10/aged-care-spared-governments-gp-co-payment/

This is pretty bad for our Health System and for Medicare altogether in my view. Patients are going to be the ultimate losers over time.

David. 


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