7 March 2016
Australia’s general practice leaders remain united in the fight against the Government’s unfair freeze on Medicare patient rebates, and are calling for all savings achieved from the MBS Review to be reinvested back into health.
GP peak bodies have called for the Federal Government to lift the freeze on patient Medicare rebates before this year’s Federal Budget announcement.
At the first meeting of United General Practice Australia (UGPA) for 2016, members voiced their concern at the damaging effect the ongoing freeze would have on Australian patients and the healthcare system.
UGPA members echoed previous warnings by Australia’s GPs that the freeze will increase out-of-pocket expenses for patients. Some practices have already closed, reducing patient access, and many GPs are being forced to pass on increasing costs to their patients, so that their practices can remain viable and continue training the next generation of general practitioners.
There is grave concern the continuation of the freeze will have a detrimental impact on patient access to general practice services, causing further stress on the country’s already exhausted hospital system.
UGPA members also emphasised that while the intention of the MBS Review to align MBS items with current clinical evidence is welcome, the Government must give a clear commitment to re-investing all savings achieved from this review to the shrinking health budget.
Members also insisted that additional funding for general practice is sorely needed. Investment in crucial general practice services, which are the most cost effective way to provide patient services to the community, would ensure that patients have access to timely, high-quality and evidence based healthcare, and reduce the strain on more expensive emergency department and hospital care.