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Catholic Health welcomes bulk billing turnaround

Catholic Health Australia CEO Francis Sullivan has said he is heartened to see a rise in doctors' bulk billing rates for the March quarter.

"It is certainly heartening to see the rate begin to rise," he said. "This obviously is the aim of the Government's MedicarePlus package and we hope that in the interests of all Australians the trend remains on the increase."

Under the package, doctors were offered a financial incentive to bulk bill patients and save Australia's medicare public health benefit system.

But Mr Sullivan is adopting a wait and see approach with regard to the long-term success of the Government's reforms. He said that bulk billing could once again become less attractive to GPs as the costs of medical care outstrip the Medicare benefit.

The Australian Medical Association's Dr Mukesh Haikerwal told the ABC that he does not believe the increase in the number of doctors bulk-billing their patients can be sustained.

"The expectation is that this trend will increase next month when Tasmania comes on line for getting a bigger rebate than everybody else, which is also something we have a problem with," he said.

Heartening Bulk Billing Rates (Catholic Health Australia 14/5/04)
AMA doubts sustainability of bulk-bill levels (ABC 15/5/04)

Bulk-billing rise a boost to Medicare (The Age 15/5/04)
Catholic Health Australia

17 May 2004