Medicare rebate changesan intolerable insult to GPs

Most people seem unaware that on January 19, the Medicare rebate for a GP consultation lasting six to 10 minutes will fall from $37.05 to $16.95, and then down to $11.95 from July 1.

I am a GP. Sometimes I can resolve a patient’s problem in less than 10 minutes.

This is usually because of the fact that I know a particular patient or family very well, because our practice provides continuity of care, and because we have years of education, experience and hard work behind us. Occasional shorter consultations provide a much-needed opportunity to reduce the waiting room back-log while still offering high-quality care.

Forty per cent of my billings go directly to my practice to cover staff wages and their entitlements, rent, accreditation, supplies, etc.

None of these costs will drop despite the rebate falling 54 to 67 per cent over the next six months.

This is an intolerable insult to the practice of family medicine.

GPs earn considerably less than other medical specialists and yet we are crucial to cost-effective healthcare.

It beggars belief that I should use my experience and decision-making capabilities and expose myself to medico legal risk for $11.95. I cannot do it.

And it is unfair to expect families to be able to absorb the huge gap that will be necessary to keep a medical practice viable especially with further reductions for the 10-20 minute consultation planned for July, and the freezing of all these reduced rebates until 2018.

Is this really the kind of healthcare system we want?

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