MBS freeze starts to bite
Health Department figures for the September quarter show that the bulk-billing rate dropped from 85.9 per cent in the June quarter to 85.4 per cent. For those patients that are privately billed, out-of-pocket costs grew by 4.5 per cent. While the AMA has said these quarterly statistics need to be interpreted with some caution, they are emerging evidence that the Medicare rebate freeze is forcing practices to review their billing practices in order to stay financially viable, as the AMA has repeatedly warned would happen.
“We know that the patient rebate is in many cases inadequate to maintain quality medical practice,” AMA President Dr Michael Gannon said.
AMA Vice President and GP, Dr Tony Bartone said during a hectic round of media interviews that “we've been saying consistently now, for as long as the freeze has been in place, the ability to absorb this freeze in the face of increasing costs – costs which continue to mount day in, day out, in running a quality practice, to provide quality health care to Australians – cannot be sustained”
The AMA continues to have available on its website a range of resources for GPs to explain the impact of the Government’s MBS freeze to patients. These are available at https://ama.com.au/nomedicarefreeze
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