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.

  

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


Celebrate the benefits of AMA Membership

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!!  RENEW your AMA Membership before 28th February 2011 on your AMA American Express® Card to be in the draw to win up to $7,500 Credit on your Card*.

1st Prize       $7,500 Credit on AMA American Express Card
2nd Prize      $5,000 Credit on AMA American Express Card
3rd Prize       $2,500 Credit on AMA American Express Card


Plus earn at least ONE REWARDS POINT for every dollar you spend.

Look out for your member subscription notice in the mail, or for details on how to renew visit contact your state AMA or phone 1300 133 655.

If you do not have an AMA American Express Card please visit http://ama.com.au/amex and apply today.

For more information and full terms and conditions click here.


OWN YOUR OWN TOMORROW

The first steps towards owning your tomorrow lies in the way you manager your money today.

The Australian Medical Associations partnership with AMP Bank gives members like you access to special rates on a range of banking products and services to help you get more from your money.

Benefits1 include:

  • Up to 0.75% pa off Classic Variable Rate Home Loans and Line of Credit Interest Rates for loans from $100,000.
  • 0.15% pa off Fixed Rate Home Loans greater than $250,000.
  • No Establishment Fee2, no Annual Fees and no Increase Limit Fee to pay on the above products.  
  • PLUS a 0.50% pa3 interest bonus on selected Term Deposits. 
Call AMP Bank today on 1300 360 525 Monday to Friday, 9am - 5pm, AEST or visit www.amp.com.au/amahomeloan

  • Benefits are subject to change by AMP Bank at anytime. Available only to current AMA members for new home loans not available when switching from existing AMP Bank Home Loan products. Fees and Charges are payable. Terms and Conditions available on request.
  • Establishment Fee waived for loans with a loan to value ratio of 90% or less. Settlement Fee of $350 applies. 
  • Bonus 0.50% pa on Term Deposits from 30 to 5 years, excluding current special offers. The minimum opening balances for new Term Deposit customers are $5,000 for 90 days and greater and $25,000 for 30 to 89 day terms. Maximum balance is $1 million.
The credit provider and product issuer is AMP Bank Limited ABN 15 081 596 009, AFLS/ ACL No. 234517. Approval is subject to AMP Bank guidelines.

Any advice given does not take into account your needs and objectives or financial situation. You should consider it’s appropriateness to your circumstances and read the relevant Terms and Conditions before deciding to acquire or continue to hold an AMP Bank product.

AMP Bank is committed to providing the AMA and its members with the highest level of support, including a financial contribution, towards the AMA's activities and programs.

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 gpnn@ama.com.au or by phone (02) 6270 5400
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