Re-elected Fed Govt needs to consult more with Primary Care

Re-elected Fed Govt needs to consult more with Primary Care

Dr Sean Stevens

Monday 8 July 2019


Like many of my colleagues, I have been wondering how the re-election of the Morrison Government will impact Australian GPs and their patients. The government’s announcement around re-indexation of the MBS (granted at a rate lower than CPI) was appreciated by GPs and I’m hopeful that our political leaders are beginning to recognise the importance of GPs in the community, but I was disappointed by the lack of focus on primary healthcare throughout the election campaign.


Most of the big-ticket health items were on secondary and tertiary care, despite the fact that primary care is the most cost-effective and under-valued area of the health system.


The RACGP has been pushing for proper payments of long consultations for a long time now. We have been advocating for an 18.5 per cent lift in level C and D consultations to bring GPs in line with non-GP specialists. It also recognises the complexity of these consultations and seeks to reward complex medicine comparably with multiple short consultations.


There is ample evidence to show that longer consultations achieve better health outcomes and reduce the overall health spend, yet paradoxically, longer consultations for complex care are not as well supported by Medicare compared with shorter consultations. 


A six-minute consultation has a per-minute rebate of $6.27, whilst a 19-minute consultation has a per-minute rebate of $1.88. A 39-minute consultation’s rate is $1.82 and a 60-minute consult has a per minute rebate of $1.79. Effectively, every minute after six minutes you are receiving a lower rebate – despite the complexity, outcomes and quality of your care increasing. A lift in the level C and D consultation rebate would go some way to addressing this.


I am hopeful our re-elected Federal Government will consult more with the primary care stakeholders on issues that affect us and our patients and avoid unilateral decisions such as the recent Urgent Care Clinics.


We look forward to another three years of productive dialogue with the newly re-elected Federal Government and hope that evidence-based policy decisions will win out.

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