General Topics

Increased Bulk Billing Incentive Payments are a Welcome Initiative for Regional, Rural & Remote Australia


9 May 2023


The increased bulk billing incentive will be a major benefit for primary healthcare in regional, rural & remote Australia and will help retain and attract GPs into those areas. The benefits will be much lower for metro Australians.

A short consultation in remote Australia is now funded at $79.40, but a metro Australian is only worth $60.40. With metro fee rates already at over $90 the opportunity cost for a doctor to bulk bill in metro Australia is approximately $30.

The Australian GP Alliance is pleased that the Commonwealth Government is attempting to increase access to primary healthcare for vulnerable Australians and restructure support for chronic disease management. It is vital that any new scheme does not diminish access of care for the 50% of Australians living with a chronic disease.

The Commonwealth Government must work with States & Territories to stop taxing Commonwealth Medicare patient payments and all medical professional fees. Until this is done the good intent from this budget will be unsuccessful.

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Health Minister’s Speech at Press Club

On 2 May the Hon Mark Butler MP, Minister for Health gave an address at the Press Club in Canberra.

Some highlights from that address are are below:


Minister for Health and Aged Care – Speech – National Press Club – 2 May 2023


Media event date: 2 May 2023

Date published: 2 May 2023

Media type:Speech Audience: General public

Selected Comments – Full speech is available here

I’d like to begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the lands on which we stand, the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people.

I offer my respect to Elders past and present and extend that respect to any First Nations people joining us today.


Now it might seem strange to start a speech on the future of Medicare by talking about the past.

But to understand the future of Medicare, you have to go back to its beginning.

So cast your mind back – those of you old enough to remember – to 1984.

Bob Hawke is the Prime Minister and Medicare is in its first year.

The Ford Falcon is Australia’s bestselling car.

“Ghostbusters” is the pinnacle of movie special effects.

Fax machines are in every office.

And in the suburbs of Adelaide a teenager is praying that his mum will buy him a walkman for his 14th birthday.

Medicare was created to solve the health problems of 1984.

In those days … we were younger, on average, and tended not to live as long.

We smoked a lot: 40 per cent of men and 30 per cent of women were regular smokers.

Our health issues were more episodic and acute.

Back then, Medicare was a symbol of modernity.
But it didn’t have an easy birth.

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NSW to Progress with Payroll Tax on GP

2 February 2023 the AGPA wrote to the NSW Premier, Health Minister and Treasurer and their Shadow counterparts.

We expressed our concerns regarding the potential impact of taxing medical professional payments under the payroll tax and the impact that this would have on bulk billing as Practices would need to suspend bulk billing to develop contingency funds, pointed out that because of the way GP is structured it is a tax exceeding 10% on Practice revenue and requested that the State consider amending the payroll tax act to exempt medical professional fees.

Today we have received an […]

AGPA Webinar – Making the CPD System Work


Thursday 30 March 2023, 7:30pm AEDT

6:30 pm Queensland, 7:00 pm SA, 4:30 pm WA

AGPA Webinar

Making the New CPD System Work

Presented by: AGPA

Speaker: Dr Bernard Shiu

Commencing 1 January 2023 the MBA has introduced a new CPD – system. GPs need to:

          • Have a CPD Home
          • Complete a Professional Development Plan (PDP) every year
          • Complete 50 hours of CPD annually

The format will be a discussion session with AGPA Director Dr Bernard Shiu explaining the new CPD system, the new changes and requirements.

We will discuss:

          • How to make it work for you as owners and how to make it work for your Practice
          • How to create Templates and content all in an easy step- by- step approach
          • Using the Apps to make a quick log

All attendees using the RACGP CPD home will get 1 Hour of CPD – Just provide your RACGP number when you register.

The intention is that you will be able to ask the questions, contribute your own experience and by the end of the session you will know how to make the CPD system work for you and your Practice.

Remember: cameras on and questions ready!



Places will be limited, preference will be given to AGPA members.

For further information contact the AGPA Secretariat

AGPA Advocacy

AGPA continues to lobby with news media and at the political level to bring issues of importance to General Practices into the spotlight.

Two recent examples from Dr Mukesh Haikerwal, foundation member  and Deputy Chair, on The Project 29 January and in a special ABC report (Youtube) from Bridget Rollason

State Tax on Medical Fees

The imposition of payroll tax on medical professional fees is in reality a tax on Practice revenues.

In 2020 a case in the Victorian Court of Appeal confirmed the right for the Victorian State Revenue Office to charge payroll tax on payments made to medical professionals. The payroll tax appears to be payable regardless of the status of the medical professional being an independent contractor or an employee.

Since that precedent both NSW and Queensland have also been imposing payroll tax on General Practices apparently where they consider that the behavior of the Practice is more akin to an employer […]

Bulk Billing Rates Decline

The impact of under funding of Medicare, and GP shortages are starting to seriously impact on the cost of patient access to GP services.

GP bulk billing rates have declined sharply in all states over the last five quarters. Falling from just under 90% in the 2021 September quarter to 83.5% in the  2022 September quarter, rates have declined over 6% nationally but in in the ACT and the NT this decline exceeds 10%.

The ACT  has the lowest rate of bulk billing at just over 61%.

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AGPA Webinar – Non Medicare Income Streams


Tuesday 6 December 2022, 7:30pm AEDT

6:30 pm Queensland, 7:00 pm SA, 4:30 pm WA

AGPA Webinar

Non Medicare Income Streams

Presented by: AGPA


Dr Brenda Murrison, Dr Fiona Raciti, Dr Jared Dart


As part of our Practice Sustainability webinar series AGPA has asked members to discuss some of the options they have followed or considered for their Practices.

Declining Government support for primary healthcare via Medicare has impacted on Practice income and in some cases Practice viability.

A common response has been to move Practice billing to mixed or private billing, but some Practices have also taken the opportunity to develop income streams from non-Medicare sources. These options include other government programs, corporate programs and non-Medicare individual medical demand.

It has involved the services of both GPs and allied health professionals.

The focus of the evening will be the presentation of options that some Practices have pursued and the approach required to achieve beneficial outcomes for Practice income.

The intention is that you will be able to ask the panel questions and contribute your own experience.

Places will be limited, preference will be given to AGPA members.

For further information contact the AGPA Secretariat

That 7:30 Report

In mid October the ABC 7:30 Report ran an article suggesting very high levels of  “leakage” from Medicare. The ABC news site article of 17 October states:

Doctors are abusing the $28 billion Medicare system, at times putting patients at risk, billing dead people and falsifying patient records, all to boost profits.

A joint investigation by ABC’s 7.30 program, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age has uncovered flaws in Medicare’s systems that make it easy to rort and almost impossible to detect fraud, incorrect payments and errors.

The leakage is estimated to represent nearly 30 per cent of Medicare’s annual budget, or about $8 billion a year.

Unsurprisingly the reaction from GPs was one of outrage and denial.

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Practice Principals are a bit like Ducks

GP practice owners are a bit like ducks, says Dr Jared Dart,  a GP Practice Owner and director of the Australian General Practice Alliance (AGPA) in an interview with Francis Wilkins of Medical Republic.

“They look like they’re floating, but under the surface they’re paddling fiercely,” he said in the interview . “And the biggest problem is practice principals have nowhere to go. A GP can retrain or go on sick leave, but principals only have one option: to sell, and unfortunately, many are doing just that.”

Inflation is now one of the toughest challenges facing owners. “Medical inflation over the past two years has been particularly high,” says Dr Dart. “Our costs are at least 10% higher in our practice, and that’s across the board – from electricity, wages and consumables to cleaning and rent.”

“Add into the mix things like payroll tax, which could bankrupt a practice principal, and you can understand why the stress is significant.”

The full article and podcast are available here