Medicare rebates for after-hours GP – debate

Assurances give that after-hours GPs will stay

Federal Member for Robertson, Ms Lucy Wicks, has denied that the Turnbull Government has plans to remove the Medicare rebate from after-hours GP services.

“There is no plan to remove after hours services from Medicare,” Ms Wicks said. “Claims that the Turnbull Government plans to remove the Medicare rebate from after-hours GP services are misleading our community,” she said. “A review of all the Medicare Benefi ts Schedule items has been initiated by the Government and is being conducted by independent medical experts. “The review is assessing concerns that some after-hours GP Medicare Items are being claimed inappropriately.

“No recommendations have yet been made regarding after-hours GP services. “We have delivered record funding, and recordhigh bulk-billing rates. Ms Wicks made her statements in response to claims by the National Home Doctor service. “A push to remove the Medicare rebate for afterhours doctor home visits would impact at least 3,925 people in the Federal Electorate of Robertson who have used the National Home Doctor Service in the past financial year,” said Dr Umberto Russo, Chief Medical Officer of the National Home Doctor Service.

“A decade after John Howard introduced afterhours doctor home visits to Medicare, the service is now being put under threat with calls for the Medicare rebate to be removed in the Government’s current Medicare Benefit Schedule review,” Dr Russo said. “Doctor home visits are an essential Medicare service which are vital for the most vulnerable people in our community, such as children and the elderly,” he said. “In the federal electorate of Robertson, 41 per cent of home visit patients were children under 15 years of age. “Children and elderly family members can fall sick at any time of the day or night, not just in business hours when GP clinics are open.

“If home visits weren’t available, more families would go to emergency departments for health problems that are not emergencies, but cannot wait for treatment until business hours. “For regional communities like those in the electorate of Robertson, getting health services when you need them is hard enough, but any cuts to this service will make things even harder. “The cost to the health system of a doctor home visit is $128, while the cost to the health system of patient being treated in an emergency department is $368 on average, and much more when an ambulance is called. “A report by Deloitte Access Economics found that without access to afterhours doctor home visits to households and aged care facilities, the cost to the health system would be $724 million higher over the four years of the budget forward estimates,” Dr Russo said.

Media statement, Jan 10, 2017 Rebecca Johnstone, office of Lucy Wicks Media release, Jan 5, 2017 Leesa Maroske, National Home Doctor service Dilon Luke, journalist