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Catholic Health says increased GP rebates should stay with patients

Catholic Health Australia responded to Friday's release of bulk billing figures indicating a further increase in the national rate to nearly 72% by welcoming the "good news" for patients that it says "reflects the increased investment that the Government has made in Medicare".

The comment came from CEO Francis Sullivan, who is in Rome attending the major Palliative Care conference at the Vatican.

"We would expect that the rate will continue to increase in 2005 following the additional $5.00 increase in the rebate for all GP consultations that was part of the Government's election commitment."

But Mr Sullivan said it is important that the additional rebate should stay with the patient, and not be swallowed up by increased doctors fees.

"Despite the increase in the bulk billing rate, there are many patients who are not bulk billed and their average out of pocket costs have increased by 12% over the last year," he said. "This means that people on meagre incomes and families where children have not been bulk billed are on average still paying over $15 a visit. The additional Medicare funding should ensure that this burden is eased."

"In addition we restate our call for the additional incentives of $5.00 and $7.50 for bulkbilled consultations provided to some groups to be extended to all bulk-billed consultations."

"Obviously the incentives to bulk bill the elderly, children and the low paid is beginning to work. For a fairer Medicare incentives for bulk billing should be extended to every patient regardless of where they live and who they are."

Increased GP Rebates Should Stay With Patients (Catholic Health Australia 12/11/04)

Catholic Health Australia
Bulk billing rates continue to rise (Department of Health and Ageing 12/11/04)
Medicare changes boost bulk billing (ABC 12/11/04)
Bulk-billing rates up (The Age/AAP 12/11/04)

15 Nov 2004