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Media release

RACGP launches national campaign against Medicare rebate freeze

26 May 2016

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, Australia’s pre-eminent general practitioner representative group, has launched an unprecedented public awareness campaign highlighting the health consequences of the Medicare rebate freeze.

In launching the television, radio and digital campaign, RACGP President, Dr Frank R Jones said the organisation had always been and would remain bi-partisan and totally focused on health outcomes for patients.

“This is not a campaign about politics, it’s a campaign highlighting the dangers of bad health policy,” Dr Jones said.

“If the freeze continues, GPs and their practices will be placed in an invidious situation whereby all patients will have to financially contribute to their consultation and beyond, or practices will have to curtail some quality patient services in order to survive financially. Worse still, some practices may have to close their doors.

“We know from experience locally and elsewhere, that if patients have to pay more, those who can least afford it will delay treatment – leading to poor and more costly health outcomes – or they will use the public hospital system, resulting in increased overall healthcare costs. There will be unnecessary and unprecedented pressure on the hospital system. 

“The lifting of the Medicare rebate freeze would remove the need for this choice to be made but critically, would still not remove the need for an evidence-based debate and subsequent policy for a sustainable, evidence-based general practice system in Australia.

Dr Jones said the long term answer to addressing the crisis in health funding was for the Government to work with the RACGP and other relevant organisations to develop new, sustainable funding and service provision models.

“Lifting the Medicare freeze will make a huge difference, but ultimately we need to collaboratively develop and implement a better funding model,” Dr Jones said.

“We urge whoever wins the upcoming Federal Election to work with us to do exactly that.

“Our Australia-wide membership base of more than 32,000 have urged the RACGP to oppose the freeze before it impacts on patients, and that is exactly what this campaign does.”

The national campaign will appear across Australian television screens, radio and digital content from this coming Sunday 29 May and run throughout the election campaign. The campaign will also feature in-practice posters and information sheets to be handed to patients.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners is Australia’s largest GP representative group, with almost 9 out of every 10 GPs with the RACGP. RACGP members see more than two million patients across Australia each working day.

The two television advertisements can be viewed on the RACGP website.

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