- On 15/05/2017
The healthcare sector has been anxiously waiting to hear what promises the Federal Government would deliver in this year’s Budget.
And while the Government did announce it would be lifting the Medicare rebate freeze, it’s hard to muster much more than golf clap.
Under Tuesday’s Budget announcement, the Government will gradually lift the Medicare rebate freeze, starting this July with bulk billing incentives for GP consultations. In 2018, there will be lift in rebates for other GP and specialist consultations, and finally medical procedures in 2019.
The measures will cost $1 billion over the forward estimates, but only $9 million in the first year.
AMA (NSW) President, Prof Brad Frankum called the Budget “a disappointment”.
“The small and incremental increases to the Medicare bulk billing incentive and the Medicare rebate hardly amount to what you could call a removal of the freeze.”
The Medicare bulk billing incentive currently stands at $6.15. The first measure – indexation of the Medicare bulk billing incentive for children and concession card holders – will amount to only a few cents. This is hardly the answer for practices that are struggling to be financially viable.
The freeze on GP consultations remains for another 12 months. Should the freeze be lifted 2%, GPs would be looking at about a 74 cent increase on a Level B consultation.
As for specialists, the removal of the freeze in 2019, is only 12 months ahead of when the freeze was originally supposed to be lifted.
What doctors and patients needed and expected from this Budget was a lifting of the Medicare freeze across the board from 1 July. What we got fell short.
The bottom line is, if you’re looking for greater financial security for your medical practice, you’ll have to look for answers beyond the Budget.
Take your financial security into your own hands
Unfreezing the GP rebate alone won’t solve all your practice’s financial problems. Future Practice and the AMA (NSW) are offering free consultations help you look at your billing and financial health.