The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), has welcomed the commitment made by The Hon. Nicola Roxon, Minister for Health and Ageing, to give prevention a boost and slash red tape for GPs in a review of items within the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) due to be finalised by March 2009 and implemented on 1 July 2009.
“Australian GPs welcome this commitment: we have long been advocating for important reforms to reduce red tape and to simplify and streamline the MBS,” said Dr Chris Mitchell, RACGP President and GP in northern New South Wales.
“The Australian Government’s commitment to immediately remove red tape from the chronic disease management allied health items will reduce administrative problems created in processing claims for patients. This is a simple, but useful, procedural fix and is a welcome symbolic gesture by the government.
“We also welcome the government’s plan to fix level C and D items to allow them to be used for preventive health. Prevention is central to the role of general practice in Australia and proper resourcing of general practice in delivering prevention to our community will reduce preventable mortality in Australia.
“The existing health check for 45-49 year olds resulted from the college’s long-term advocacy to re-focus the MBS towards prevention. The college remains committed to working with the Australian Government to ensure that good preventative health care is appropriately rewarded within the MBS for patients of all ages.
“The Australian Government has committed to a substantial investment in the hospital sector; however, these changes have been flagged as cost neutral. Investment in primary care and general practices is long overdue.
“While these initiatives are very welcome, we anticipate that broader changes are needed to ensure long term health benefits, a stronger focus on prevention and long term sustainability in general practice. The current Medicare rebate for patients wanting long consultations is still insufficient and acts as a strong disincentive to patients who need a longer visit to their doctor. Our ability to use our practice nurses is still hampered by the way Medicare works.
“We will hold the Government to its commitment to look at other significant changes in the long term,” said Dr Mitchell.
To read the Minister’s media release, please visit here.
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is responsible for maintaining standards for quality clinical practice, education and training, and research in Australian general practice. The RACGP has the largest general practitioner membership of any medical organisation in Australia and represents the majority of Australia’s general practitioners.
Royal Australian College of General Practitioners