GP Network News, Issue 12, Number 06 - 17 February 2012
AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, met with the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler, earlier this week to raise ongoing concerns about the Government’s funding cuts to Medicare rebates for GP mental health services and to highlight the 6% reduction in these services based on early Medicare data. Access to medical care for older Australians was also raised, particularly the need to better support GPs in their continuing work in the aged care sector.
The AMA will continue to call on the Government to restore Better Access funding to reverse the decline in GP mental health services.
The Government’s private health insurance means test changes passed through the House of Representatives earlier this week and are expected to pass through the Senate shortly. In response, Dr Hambleton said all savings derived as a result of means testing should be ploughed back into the health system. The Government says its modelling indicates that the changes would have a modest impact on private health membership. The AMA would be concerned if more people than estimated gave up their cover, or if the measures caused people to downgrade their cover to reduce the cost of their premium. The Government must monitor the impact of the means test and be prepared to make adjustments if there is any significant reduction in private health insurance membership.
The AMA National Conference is the premier event of the year and 2012 promises to be the best yet, in celebration of 50 years. At the Grand Hyatt in Melbourne from May 25 to 27 the conference program features keynote addresses from leaders in medical care; workshops on topical issues affecting medical practice, and policy sessions on contemporary issues affecting the Australian health system.
Registration is now open for the conference which for the first time is open to all doctors, not just AMA members or invited delegates
The AMACGP will have its first meeting for the year this weekend, 18-19 February. The main items the Council will discuss include: mental health, the GP Super Clinics Audit, Medicare Locals, after hours, rewarding quality general practice, caring for chronic and complex disease, and funding to compensate GPs for additional work involved in the PCEHR.
The AMA encourages medical practitioners to determine their own fees based on their own practice costs. To guide medical practitioners in determining their fees and to assist those considering moving from bulk billing to patient billing, the AMA provides members with tools and resources, which are available at http://ama.com.au/feeslist.
There is a checklist for those medical practitioners who have decided to move from bulk billing to patient billing and a template letter to explain to their patients why their fee is different to the Medicare rebate.
The AMA Gaps Poster illustrates why patients might have to pay a gap. The poster shows the effect of the difference between the indexation of Medicare Schedule fees and the Consumer Price Index and average weekly earnings. To download a A4 size poster that you may print please click here, or you can order a colour A3 size poster by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling on (02) 6270 5400.
One of the highlights of the 2012 AMA National Conference, will be the keynote presentation by an international guest, Professor the Lord Darzi of Denham PC KBE. Lord Darzi was the former Health Minister in the United Kingdom and the Chair of Surgery at St Mary's Hospital in London. He will provide a personal reflection on Clinical Leadership in Health Systems.
We hope you can join us in Melbourne, from the 25-27 of May 2012 for the AMA National Conference.