GP Network News, Issue 11, Number 6 - 18 February 2011

18 Feb 2011

AMA 2011-12 Federal Budget Submission

The AMA lodged its 2011-2012 Federal Budget Submission on 16 February.

The key issues for general practice include:

  • MBS indexation – the AMA called for appropriate indexation of all MBS rebates at an annual cost to Government of $266 million.
  • GP Infrastructure – the AMA calls on government to redirect funding from the GP Super Clinics program into GP infrastructure grants for those GP Super Clinics that are not yet finalized and not fully supported in the communities, including the medical community involved. This measure would not involve any additional expenditure.
    Further, the AMA calls for Government to increase funding to GP infrastructure grants by an additional 575 grants at the level of existing grants at a total cost of $175 million. This would enable a third round of GP infrastructure grants in addition to the funding increases that may be available from redirected GP Super Clinic funding
  • After Hours services – new after hours funding arrangements must not create a disincentive for practices currently providing after-hours services to continue doing so, and must encourage those not currently providing such services to do so.
  • Practice nurse funding – the Government must design and implement the new practice nurse funding arrangements with full input from the medical profession to ensure an expansion of practice nurse services within general practice with no detriment to existing practices.
  • GP referred MRI and PoCT – MBS rebates for clinically indicated GP-referred MRI and PoCT. The AMA believes the short-term cost of funding these initiatives would be offset in the long term by less wastage and duplication of services, more timely clinical decisions and action, and improved patient outcomes.
  • Other Medical Practitioners (Non VR) – The AMA believes the Government should act on the 2005 Biennial Review of the Medicare Provider Number Legislation and provide a final opportunity for other medical practitioners (OMPs) who meet the necessary criteria to be grandfathered on to the Specialist Register (formerly VR). The Government could enhance the immediate availability of experienced doctors to the GP workforce by addressing the longstanding anomalies that exist in funding and recognition of these medical practitioners.

A copy of the submission is here.

Health Funding Reform Update

The AMA has welcomed a revised health funding reform package agreed by all jurisdictions at the recent COAG meeting. In a press release issued on 13 February 2011, AMA President, Dr Pesce said that the reforms emerging from COAG signal the commitment to a future national health system that is ‘transparent, economically responsible and geared to providing the best possible outcomes for patients.’

‘It is vital that Medicare Locals must support general practices, and not divert services from GPs or engage in fundholding arrangements that divert funding from GPs to their patients,’ Dr Pesce said. A link to the full press release is here.

There is a decision by COAG to increase the total number of Medicare Locals, by an unspecified number. This increase appears to be mainly in Victoria and was not welcomed by AGPN who felt it would disempower the Victorian organisations. There are also plans to increase the number due to open this year from 15 to 30.

For public hospitals, instead of the previous 60/40 funding split (with the Commonwealth as dominant partner) the new scheme involves a 50/50 split. The States and Territories will no longer have to give back one third of their GST revenues. The focus on activity based funding remains and the agreement provides for a notional ‘efficient price’ for each service public hospitals provide.

A new body will receive the funding contributions from both levels of government but importantly, the hospital budgetary allocations will pass through the State and Territory accounts. The Commonwealth will pay its share of the ‘efficient price’ for each service, the States to pay the remainder of the ‘efficient price’ plus any extra amount on top of that. In theory the States with efficient hospitals will pay less.

One large challenge will be to calculate the ‘efficient price’. This will be the job of the new Independent Hospital Pricing Authority that is due to begin operations in July this year. The new system is due to commence in July 2012. The Agreement is available here.


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In this Issue

AMA 2011-12 Federal Budget Submission

Health Funding Reform Update

Celebrate the benefits of AMA Membership

Own your own tomorrow

Email the AMA

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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
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