Record bulk-billing, department says

More Australian patients are visiting their doctor without having to pay than ever before, with GP bulk billing rates for the March 2017 quarter increasing to 85.6% compared to 85.1% in the same quarter last year, according to the Department of Health.

This is the highest bulk billing rate for any March quarter since the inception of Medicare.

During July 2016 to March 2017, patients received 228.1 million bulk billed Medicare services – representing an additional 7.3 million fully subsidised services compared to the same period 12 months earlier.

Over this period Australians accessed 110.2 million GP services – an increase of 3.6 million services.

The total cost of all Medicare benefits paid during this period was $16.3 billion, an increase of 2.8%.

Budget 2017: Response from the Australian General Practice Alliance

The Chair of the Australian General Practice Alliance (AGPA), Dr John Deery, welcomes the announcement by the Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, that the flawed capping of rentals for accredited Pathology collection centres in medically owned health facilities will not proceed.

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Simple primary-care reforms ‘could save $320m’

Simple reforms to Australia’s health system could help save more than $320 million a year on avoidable hospital admissions and provide better care for people with diabetes, asthma, heart disease and other chronic conditions, according to a Grattan Institute report.

The primary health system, Australians’ first point of contact for health care, was designed in and for another era and is now failing in the prevention and management of chronic disease, the heaviest burden on today’s health system.

The government spends more that $1 billion each year on planning, coordinating and reviewing chronic disease management, yet many people with chronic conditions do not receive best care and end up having hospital stays that could have been avoided with better care.

More details and the full report are here

Medicare income and job satisfaction in decline

Medicare revenue and job satisfaction for GPs are falling, according to a Melbourne University report.

Medicare revenue per full-time-equivalent GP has declined in real terms since the Medicare fee freeze in 2013.

Reported GP job satisfaction and work–life balance have deteriorated since 2013. This suggests reduced morale which, if continued, could compound existing slow growth and dif culties in recruitment and retention in the sector.

The full report is here