Push to link patient rebates to CPI

2 minute read

The Australian Society of General Practice has begun lobbying efforts to bring Medicare up to speed.

Lobbying group the Australian Society of General Practice has put out the call for MBS indexation to be formally tied to the Consumer Price Index.

ASGP, the new kid on the block when it comes to organisations claiming to represent the interests of GPs, is aiming to take the government to task on Medicare remuneration.

It’s no secret that Medicare rebates haven’t exactly kept up with inflation.

The rebate for an Item 23 in the year it was introduced was $24, which would be $47.87 in 2021 money, purely going off inflation. Instead, it was $39.10.

The remuneration, even when simply adjusted for CPI, is still less than the AMA fee recommendation of $86 for Item 23 and ASGP’s own recommendation to charge $89.05 minimum for a 20-minute consult.

Although inflation is projected to reach 5% this year, Medicare was only indexed by 1.6% – a real-terms increase of 62c.

“This is not true indexation,” ASGP president Dr Chris Irwin said.

“It is a freeze and a cut by any other name.

“The Albanese government, much like its predecessors, is perpetuating the Medicare freeze and patients are being short-changed.”

He urged the relatively fresh government to follow through on its commitment to fix healthcare by addressing primary care first.

“Having committed to fixing Medicare, the Albanese government now has the chance to rectify the funding gap by increasing the rebate and ensuring it always keeps pace with inflation,” Dr Irwin said.

“This will go a long way to easing the cost of medical care and taking pressure off our already stretched public hospital system.”

Low Medicare rebates, Dr Irwin argued, are at the root of the profession’s troubles, particularly in underserved rural and regional areas.

“It is painfully obvious to anyone working in the healthcare sector that our Medicare rebate system does not match the cost of medical care,” Dr Irwin said.

“Australians deserve better – and we know that with the political will, this is a situation that is easily fixed.”

On the topic of political will, Dr Irwin is himself running in the RACGP presidential election this year.

He has pledged to spend every cent of his $250,000 salary on professional lobbying for GPs, should he be elected college president. ASGP has engaged Cornerstone Government Relations as its professional voice in Canberra.

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