What’s in the Budget for doctors in training?
6 May 2016
There was very little in the Budget for doctors in training. Additional funding for medical training had already been announced in the 2015-16 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook, including additional Specialist Training Program places and for the Integrated Rural Training Pipeline initiative.
The Budget papers did confirm ongoing funding for the Commonwealth Medical Intern Initiative and revealed that the Government had dropped its proposal for full fee deregulation for undergraduate education. However, the Government is still contemplating uncapped fees for some courses in its recently released higher education consultation paper.
GPs training under the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine’s independent pathway will also be able to bill A1 Medicare rebates, something that the AMA has been raising with the Government since 2013.
Rumoured changes that would have seen caps applied to tax deductions for work related self education expenses also failed to materialise in the Budget, following campaigning by the AMA and other members of the former Scrap the Cap Coalition.
Overall the AMA believes that this year’s Budget will continue the Government’s “stranglehold” on the Medicare system, constitutes “another hit to household budgets, and represents extra disincentives to people accessing health care when they need it”.
In particular, AMA President Prof Brian Owler has said that the Government’s decision to extend the freeze on Medicare rebates to 2020 would be the “tipping point” for many medical practices, forcing many to wind back bulk billing and begin charging patients.