Reforms to MBS item fee arrangements for GPs under the Stronger Rural Health Budget Strategy
The Stronger Rural Health Strategy announced in the federal government’s 2018-19 Budget has seen reforms to the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) item fee arrangements for GPs. New fee structure and access arrangements will affect non-vocationally recognised GPs (other than those participating on approved training programs or who are covered by grandfathering arrangements).
The new fee structure will be introduced on 1 July 2018 and will apply to all services performed on and from that date. Vocationally registerered (VR) or Fellowed GPs will see no changes to their MBS fees. For non-VR GPs a new MBS item group will be established with tiered rebates on GP items.
Non-VR GPs already participating on one of the Other Medical Practitioner (OMPs) Programs will be largely unaffected by the changes at this stage due to grandfathering arrangements. The OMPs programs will, however, be closed to new entrants in late 2018.
There are no changes to the MBS fees payable to specialist GPs or to registrars training on the Australian General Practice Training Program, the Remote Vocational Training Scheme or the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine Independent Pathway.
Outline of the changes
Information about the new fee arrangements is provided in a Q&A Sheet that will shortly be available on the Doctor Connect Website. The main changes are:
- A new MBS item group (A7), which will sit alongside the existing A2 and A19 item groups.
- New rebate differentials of 80% and 60% tied to item access eligibility.
The application of these changes to individual doctors will depend on their practice location, based on the Modified Monash (MM) classification system.
Non-VR GPs practising in regional, rural and remote areas (MM2-7)
Non-VR GPs practising in locations with an MM2-7 classification will have access to all items in the new A7 item group, which are set at a standard 80% of the equivalent GP item. (Note that some of these items, such as Mental Health, require the practitioner to have undertaken specific training).
Non-VR GPs practising in major cities (MM 1)
Non-VR GPs practising in locations with an MM1 classification will be restricted to the existing A2 items for standard GP services, and A19 items for attendances associated with Practice Incentive Payments. These A2 and A19 items will attract rebates at 60% of the VR rate. For all other services they will be able to access the relevant items in the new A7 item group with an 80% rebate.
Non-VR GPs registered on OMPs programs (MM1-7)
Non-VR GPs who are currently registered on one of the Other Medical Practitioner programs (AHOMPs, MOMPs, OMOMPs, ROMPs) will be able to continue to access the MBS items they are currently billing until 30 June 2023. In addition, for services that are not covered under the OMPs arrangements, these doctors will now be able to access the new non-VR items listed under A7.
OMPs programs and grandfathering arrangements - www.health.gov.au/omps
For more information on the new items, go to www.mbsonline.gov.au
For any other questions please contact the Department at Access.Programs@health.gov.au