Medicare turns 40 as encouraging new data is released

New bulk billing data released this week is proof of value in investing in Medicare, but more needs to be done.

This week Medicare turned 40, with the federal government releasing new bulk billing data that showed encouraging signs that recent investments in Medicare are paying off.

The AMA had argued repeatedly through its Modernise Medicare campaign for improved indexation of all Medicare rebates and additional funding for primary care.

In a media release, AMA President Professor Steve Robson said the AMA had a plan to Modernise Medicare and the government listened, making a significant down payment of around $6 billion for primary care — including bulk billing incentives and increasing rebates — in last year’s budget.

Professor Robson said while the investment in Medicare had delivered results and appears to have arrested the decline of bulk billing rates in general practice, further reform and investment was needed to ensure the system continued to support improved access and affordability for patients.

Speaking on ABC News Breakfast on Thursday morning, Professor Robson said: “In a number of places around the country, particularly for vulnerable Australians, we've seen an uptick in bulk billing. So it means that a lot of the most vulnerable Australians now are in a position of having more accessible healthcare”.

But Professor Robson said much more work was needed to ensure the sustainability of Medicare.

“We know that for decades successive governments have neglected Medicare, and it really has fallen into disrepair. It's going to take a lot of work, a big commitment, and it's going to take investment to bring Medicare back to where we think it should be and to make healthcare accessible and affordable for all Australians,” he told ABC News Breakfast.

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