The Royal Australian College of GPs (RACGP) has welcomed the federal Budget as a game changer for GPs, practice teams and the patients they care for across Australia.
RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins said the Budget is a win for patients.
“Every patient deserves access to high-quality, affordable and accessible general practice care, irrespective of their postcode or income,” she said.
“I commend the Albanese Government for committing to this massive investment in general practice care. We know the problems impacting our health system can’t all be fixed in one go, but tonight’s Budget includes a groundbreaking investment in the health of all Australians by strengthening general practice care. The Government has shown real commitment to strengthening Medicare and rebuilding general practice care for all patients.”
Dr Higgins said the $5.7 billion funding package in the 2023-24 Budget responds to calls made by the RACGP.
“This $5.7 billion funding package puts patients first,” she said.
“It will help to stem the bleeding, relieve pressure on our entire healthcare system including our hospitals, and ease pressures on people struggling to afford the care they need. I am delighted the Government has listened and responded to the RACGP’s calls to support our GPs, practice teams and the patients we care for so that everyone can access a strong primary care system.
“The $5.7 billion funding package triples the bulk-billing incentive, hikes Medicare rebates twice this year, and boosts the Workforce Incentive Payment. It also includes funds for a new Medicare item for longer consultations lasting more than 60 minutes. This will make a real difference for all Australians and is what the RACGP has been working with Government to secure for a long time.
“Hiking Medicare rebates this year in July and again in November is a good first step in reducing out-of-pocket costs for patients across the country at a time when it’s most needed given increasing cost of living pressures. Tripling the bulk billing incentive will help to increase access to care for those Australians who need it most and arrest the decline in bulk-billing. The new Medicare item, Level E, for consultations over 60-minutes, will improve access to care for patients with complex needs, such as those with chronic conditions and mental health issues.
“The substantial increase in the Workforce Incentive Program, or WIP, is a positive step to enable general practice to grow existing multidisciplinary care teams within general practice. This is essential support for GPs caring for people with complex chronic disease.”
Dr Higgins also said that boosting telehealth services was just what the doctor ordered.
“It’s fantastic news that the Minister for Health and Aged Care Mark Butler has listened carefully to the RACGP’s calls and reinstated Medicare patient rebates for longer phone consultations as a permanent fixture of the nation’s telehealth system,” she said.
Dr Higgins said the RACGP will continue to work with the Government on longer-term reforms to strengthen Medicare and rebuild general practice care for patients.
“Tonight’s Budget is the result of strong advocacy by the RACGP on behalf of our members and their patients,” she said.
“We will continue to work with the Government on these critical reforms to strengthen Medicare and rebuild general practice care for Australian patients.”
This year’s Budget includes:
$5.7 billion funding package boosting Medicare for all Australians
a 30% increase in the Workforce Incentive Program to enable practices to grow multidisciplinary care teams within general practice
reinstating Medicare rebates for longer telehealth phone consultations
tripling the bulk-billing incentive and $100 million for a new Medicare item Level E for consultations lasting more than 60-minutes.
The RACGP’s pre-budget submission 2023-24 can be found here.