The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) has welcomed the Government’s commitment to begin lifting the Medicare rebate freeze, arguing it will help ensure patients can access the care they need.
Under the Budget plan announced in Canberra tonight, Medicare rebates for bulk-billed GP visits will be lifted from July this year, with the staged changes to be extended to specialist appointments in 2018.
“It is pleasing that the Government has begun the process of lifting the freeze on rebates,” explained RACP President Dr Yelland. “The change will mean that MBS rebates will again keep pace with inflation and the costs of running a quality medical practice.
“Tonight’s announcement is a good outcome for the Australian health system as it will better support patients in accessing the care they need.”
Dr Yelland also welcomed the Government’s continued commitment to the Health Care Homes initiative.
“It is pleasing that the Government continues to support the Health Care Homes trial. This initiative is a genuine opportunity to trial an innovative model of care and funding that could potentially deliver important benefits to patients with chronic conditions.
“We also welcome the continued focus on ensuring patients have access to the medicines they need, by lowering the cost of essential medications to support new treatments being made available.
“We are however concerned about a number of punitive measures which may limit welfare access to people suffering alcohol and substance abuse issues.
“The RACP has consistently called for increases to currently underfunded drug and alcohol services, with Australians with alcohol and substance abuse issues needing support for their recovery.
“Another area of concern is the potential impact on the future medical and health workforce resulting from announced changes to supported university places for Australian permanent residents and New Zealanders,” she added.