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Lift Medicare rebates for General Practitioners

GPs are the backbone of our medical system. They rapidly triage medical issues and practice preventive medicine - keeping people out of hospital in the short and long term. The rebate the government pays a GP for a consultation has been frozen for the past decade, an enormous cut in funding. For a GP to bulk bill currently they would have to see a ridiculous 10 patients an hour. Most clinics now charge a private fee (a barrier to seeing the doctor when the ED is free), are rapidly turning over patients without addressing the modifiable factors of disease, or are reflexively referring patients to Emergency Departments as time does not allow sufficient delineation of acuity. This results in absurd inefficiencies. Each avoidable presentation to the emergency department costs the Australian government a staggering $540. Each heart attack, a readily preventable illness, costs $10,000 directly, ignoring the wider effects on community and the workforce. One only needs to look at the United States’ health care system to see the result of a primarily specialist led service, with no strong generalist backbone. Some 50% of graduating medical practitioners need to specialise in General Practice to meet the needs of the community. Presently only 15% choose to do so. No wonder when non-GP specialists are remunerated in orders of magnitude more highly. Any current shortfall in GPs only portends a staggering shortage in the future. So increase the medicare rebate, to save bulk billing and save General Practice.
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