GP Network News, Issue 11, Number 36 - 16 September 2011

16 Sep 2011

Senate Inquiry into Mental Health Funding

At last week’s Senate Inquiry hearing into the Commonwealth’s Funding and Administration of Mental Health Services the AMA was asked to make a further submission regarding the changes. That submission was lodged earlier this week and provided additional comment on:

  • Department of Health Ageing analysis confirming that the 2011/12 Budget provided only modest additional funding for mental health and used cuts to Medicare rebates for mental health services to help pay for the mental health package.
  • The inappropriate use of BEACH data to justify the cuts
  • Online services as treatment or an information/education platform
  • Intellectual Disability Health Check Medicare item

The Committee has received over 1000 submissions and is due to deliver its report to Parliament by 20 September 2011.

There is still an opportunity to support the AMA’s campaign to have the government reverse its decision to cut funding under the Better Access program by signing the Online Petition. Add your signature to the over 3100 already collected. Click here to sign the petition.

Primary Care Infrastructure Grants (PCIG) – Performance Audit

The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) is conducting a performance audit that will assess the effectiveness of DoHA’s support for improved community access to integrated GP and primary health care services through its administration of PCIGs.

The audit will focus on:

  • DoHA’s design of the PCIG initiative;
  • its ability to attract high quality grant applications;
  • its grant assessment and selection process;
  • negotiation of funding agreements; and
  • management of reporting and compliance issues.

In undertaking this audit the ANAO has approached the AMA seeking views on administration of the program. To help inform the AMA contribution any feedback you may wish to provide on your experience applying for a PCIG would be welcomed. Email your feedback on your direct or indirect experience with this process to Responses will be de-identified and aggregated.

AMA supports Independent Hospital Pricing Authority (IHPA)

Earlier this week the AMA lodged its submission on the National Health Reform Amendment (Independent Hospital Pricing Authority) Bill 2011. The AMA generally supports the proposed arrangements for the Authority, but recommends changes to strengthen and clarify its functions and procedures.

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton said that the IHPA would be responsible for setting the efficient price for the Commonwealth’s contribution to public hospital services and for determining the Commonwealth’s payments for block funding.“…AMA members working in public hospitals have experienced many examples of activities that could be interpreted as a State or Territory government cost-shifting to the Commonwealth… this Bill empowers the Authority to investigate and make recommendations on cost-shifting and cross-border disputes…’ Dr Hambleton said.

The AMA submission is here. The accompanying press release is here.

Medical advice missing from personally controlled e-health record (PCEHR) plan

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton said earlier this week that the AMA was disappointed that the Government has failed to heed medical advice in finalising its Concept of Operation for the PCEHR. The AMA is a huge supporter of e-health and the benefits it can bring, but cannot support aspects of the system that do not improve on what we now have and which potentially create risks to patient health Dr Hambleton said. ‘….Under the proposed arrangements people will be able to alter their health record without consultation with their doctor…this is a very dangerous precedent that could undermine all the potential benefits of an electronic health record…’ Dr Hambleton said the AMA would prefer the system be opt-out, not opt-in which has resulted in complex rules for patients to give their doctors access to their PCEHR.

The AMA submission on the PCEHR Draft Concept of Operations is here. The Government’s 159 page Concept of Operations relating to the introduction of PCEHR (released earlier this week) is here. The AMA press release is here.


We welcome your comments and suggestions as well. Please tell us what you think.

Pick up a free day on Hertz* Rent a car for 5 days or more and only pay for 4.


Rent a car for 5 days or more with Hertz and you’ll only pay for 4. That’s on top of all the usual benefits you’d expect with your Hertz rental including your usual AMA rate discount. 

The offer is available at participating domestic locations on rentals collected before 20th December 2011. So book now at and quote CDP Number 283826 and Promotion Code 161615, or call Hertz Reservations on 13 30 39.

* Terms and conditions apply.  Minimum rental period of 5 consecutive days, maximum 1 free day per rental. Offer is available on Intermediate, Standard, Fullsize and Minivan vehicle groups; one free day is applied to daily rate and applicable GST and cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer. Hertz standard terms, conditions and credit qualifications apply.

In this Issue

Senate Inquiry into Mental Health Funding

Primary Care Infrastructure Grants (PCIG) – Performance Audit

AMA supports Independent Hospital Pricing Authority (IHPA)

Medical advice missing from personally controlled ehealth record (PCEHR) plan

Pick up a free day on Hertz*

Email the AMA

Post new comment to the website



AMA is the peak medical organisation in Australia representing the profession’s interests to Government and the wider community. Your Federal AMA General Practice Policy team can be contacted via email or by phone (02) 6270 5400. You can unsubscribe from GPNN by emailing