Budget closes gap for endo consults

2 minute read

Women will get longer gynaecologist appointments funded under Medicare. GPs will get more guidelines.

The Labor government will close a rebate gap that is “obviously just not right” by doubling the fee for endometriosis consultations with gynaecologists, both in private practice and in pelvic pain clinics.  

Health Minister Mark Butler announced today that the one in nine women with endometriosis will benefit from items worth $168.60 for an initial gynaecologist consultation of at least 45 minutes (up from $95.60) and subsequent consultations worth $84.35 for at least 45 minutes (up from $48.05). 

“If I go to a cardiologist to see them about my heart condition, for example, Medicare would pay me twice as much as a woman receives to see her gynaecologist,” Mr Butler told ABC News Breakfast.  

“I mean, that’s obviously just not right. But it also has meant that so many women have been suffering in silence, or putting up with short consults that barely scratch the surface of their condition, or paying huge out-of-pocket costs that I wouldn’t have to pay to see a cardiologist.  

“So, we’re going to fix this historical gender pay gap and double the amount that Medicare pays a woman to see her gynaecologist.” 

Last year’s federal budget created a new item for GP consults 60 minutes or longer. The government is now including this in its $107 million package to support women with endometriosis, which also includes 22 pelvic pain clinics opened in the past year and support for research and awareness.  

Mr Butler hasn’t promised anything for general practice this year, except a rebuke about getting endometriosis wrong and a promise of more guidelines to help get it right.  

“We’re also developing clinical guidelines and other resources – more research, for example – to make sure that GPs, who are often the first port of call for a woman or for a teenage girl suffering from sometimes excruciating pelvic pain, so that they aren’t subject to those experiences that I hear so often that it’s just period pain, or you’re quickly put onto the pill rather than having that deep examination of what is going on there and coming up with proper treatment,” Mr Butler told the ABC. 

He told Today: “I’m not in a position to outline what’s going to be in the Budget, but we have no stronger focus in our government than strengthening Medicare.” 

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