MBS Rebate FreezePosted by Dr Ged Foley on 12 May 2016
Last week, the Federal Government delivered its pre-election budget. As you will know, among the measures announced was an extension of the freeze in indexation on the MBS rebates until 2020.
The justification behind this rebate freeze is the record-high levels of bulk-billing on GP Medicare items, at just under 84%. The Government argues that this statistic shows that the current MBS rebates are generous enough to support GP income in the current climate. Sadly, the Government does not recognise factors such as patient expectations, increasing cost of medication and secondary care, increasing competition for patients and real economic hardship in a significant proportion of the Australian population; these are the real factors that are driving the record-high levels of bulk-billing.
Clearly the agenda is to reduce cost to the Government in health-spend and to shift this cost elsewhere, either to GPs to absorb in the form of a shrinking income, or the general population in the form of an increase in private billing. By the end of the rebate freeze in 2020, the value of GP patient rebates will have fallen by 20% in real terms. The mooted re-investment in General Practice in the form of funding the Medical Home model now seems a long way off.
In view of this, I would like to urge you to support the “You’ve been targeted” campaign from the RACGP. The posters giving information to patients will be displayed in IPN Medical Centres across the country. It is vitally important that we inform our patients about the impending damage to their care and the funding of General Practice. It is also essential that we join together as a profession to voice to the Government our concern and to demonstrate our significant potential to influence public opinion.