General Topics

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%.

Read more

AGPA Webinar – Non Medicare Income Streams

Webinar

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

Speakers:

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.

https://www.trybooking.com/CEPCN

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.

Read more

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

Queensland Joins the Payroll Tax of GP

Following the precedents set in Victoria and NSW it is now appears  that the Queensland State Revenue office has  commenced levying retrospective payroll taxes on GP Practices and that medicare and professional fees paid to independent  GPs are considered to be be payments to “employees” for the purpose of determining payroll tax liability.

General Practice is on the Edge of a Cliff

General Practice is on the edge of a cliff and has been put there by the actions of Successive Governments.

There are three key components to a high quality primary healthcare system

  • Professionals- Sufficient well trained and appropriately remunerated staff including GPs, Nurses, Allied Health Professionals and  Administration staff,
  • Practices – High quality infrastructure provided by GP Practices with up to date standards and facilities, and
  • Patient Access- Ease of patient access which is impacted by  cost of access,  timeliness of access, and the transportability of access (competition between GP Practices)

Most GPs work in Principal led (GP Owned) Practices, small businesses that are the backbone of Australia’s primary health care system.  These General Practice businesses are under extreme pressure.  The Australian GP Alliance (AGPA ) is the representative body for GP owned practices which account for over 2/3 of General Practices (ref HON 2022).

We call on the Federal Health Minister to act in this time of crisis to for Primary Health Care in Australia.

Read more

Transition to Private Billing

Transition to Private Billing

Presented by: AGPA

Speakers:

Dr Trish Baker, Dr Bernard Shiu, Dr Mukesh Haikerwal, and Dr Richard Barker

Tuesday 9 August 2022

 

Since 2010 health costs have increased at about 5% per year. MBS funding has increased by about 0.5%. This has put significant pressure on Practice viability.

Many Practices that were traditionally bulk billing or mixed billing Practices have started or are considering moving away from their previous billing model.  We  asked four Practice owners to participate in a panel discussion to discuss how they approached the key components of the transition.

  • Conversations with/ information for patients
  • Conversations with and information and support for contract GPs
  • Support for reception staff and practice managers
  • Support for practice nurses and allied health team members

The webinar was recorded, with a link available here

Meet the Candidates 2022

The candidates:

Dr Julian Fidge

Dr Charlotte Hespe

Dr Nicole Higgins

Dr Chris Irwin

Professor Brad Murphy

Dr Chris Ogonowski

Dr Kate Wylie

Primary health care in Australia is led by Practice Principals who work in the Practices they own, providing clinical leadership and facilities to deliver a high quality, community based, primary healthcare system.

The RACGP council elections will take place in September 2022.

The College has significant influence on government policy regarding General Practice and therefore its policies impact on General Practice Principals as the owners of the practices.

The 2022 candidates for President of the RACGP were invited to address an AGPA forum so that GPs and Practice Principals can hear their views on matters which impact on General Practice.

View webinar recording here

Monkey Pox Declared a Notifiable Disease of National Significance

On 28 July 2022 the Australian Government Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly declared Monkeypox (MPX) to be a Communicable Disease of National Significance . The Chief Medical Officer’s statement is here

Monkeypox, also known as MPX, is a disease caused by the Monkeypox virus or MPXV. It is part of the same family of viruses as variola virus which causes smallpox. MPX symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but milder and rarely fatal. Most people will recover in 2-4 weeks.

More severe cases, while rare, can occur among children and people with compromised immunity.

A DoH fact sheet  is here

The Department of Health and Aging have developed a resources page here

ATAGI clinical guidance on vaccination  is available here