Wednesday, May 04, 2016
The Health Budget Seems To Be Not Very Well Received. GPs Especially Seem To Be Hit.
This appeared today in the Medical Observer:
4 May 2016
The move effectively cuts nearly $1 billion from Medicare.
Health Minister Sussan Ley is defending the freeze, saying it is “in recognition” of the fiscal situation and the recently announced Healthier Medicare reforms, which include changes to payments and models of care for chronically ill patients.
RACGP President Dr Frank Jones calls it a “calamitous” move that may leave general practices unviable. He calls the budget illogical and says the government has taken no heed of the college’s advice.
AMA President Dr Brian Owler says the most vulnerable will be hardest hit, while Dr Ewen McPhee, President of the Rural Doctors Association of Australia, says extending the freeze will “send more rural and remote patients to the healthcare equivalent of deepest, darkest Siberia”.
"This is bigger than the co-payment. This is a war on general practice," he said on Wednesday.
$136.6 million in funding is expected to help the My Aged Care website and contact centre meet rapidly growing demand.
A further $156.5 million will be provided to the new Australian Digital Health Agency for its first year of operation. The nascent agency is set to assume management and governance responsibilities for many aspects of the digital health scheme, including strategy, design, development, delivery and operations.
Australian Doctor is equally unhappy.
4 May, 2016 ||
Another billion dollars will be effectively cut from Medicare after the Federal Government pledges to extend the rebate freeze until 2020.
The first budget from Treasurer Scott Morrison (pictured) described the move as a “broad-based measure”, which will have a “minimal” impact on individual services.
Record bulk-billing rates for GP attendances — now at 83% — are cited as a justification for the cuts.
MBS rebates for GP care were originally frozen until mid-2018, with Health Minister Sussan Ley saying last year they would be in place no longer than necessary.
However, the 2016 Budget noted the policy will run until mid-2020, saving an estimated $925 million over two years.
The continued freeze covers all MBS services – including GP, allied health and other specialist services. The savings will be redirected to fund health policy priorities, according to the government.
Ms Ley defended the freeze last night. Referring to the looming Health Care Homes trial where practices will get bundled quarterly payments for managing enrolled patients' chronic conditions, she said: "The [freeze] is in recognition of the current fiscal environment and the Healthier Medicare reforms...including a new, fairer bundled payment and incentive model for GPs treating chronically ill patients that will no longer rely solely on the fee-for-service Medicare rebate model.
One big question is whether the continued freeze will force GPs and clinics to ditch bulk-billing.
Doctors — particularly in low socio-economic areas — have previously warned that their patients could not afford to pay gap fees.
According to figures provided to Australian Doctor, the average full-time urban GP already lost the equivalent of $9600 in reduced Medicare funding during this financial year.
However, this will increase with inflation to $29,500 in 2017/18.
Lots more here:
It seems to me the Government is pushing rather hard on General Practice and that if it keeps happening we are going to see a very different system with Bulk Billing becoming a rarity as the economic viability of GP deteriorates.
It is also interesting to see just how much the Digital Health Agency and the My Aged Care are costing.
More reaction will be covered a bit later.
A useful overview for the health sector is also found here:
Posted by Dr David G More MB PhD at Wednesday, May 04, 2016