An Albanese Labor Government will strengthen Medicare and fix Scott Morrison’s GP crisis.
Under the Liberals, Medicare has faced rolling cuts and attacks, beginning with attempts to end universal fee-free health care with a GP co-payment every time you see a doctor, followed by a cut of billions with a six-year freeze on Medicare rebates.
Since then, Scott Morrison has cut psychiatry telehealth items, removed regional bulk billing incentives, and made 900 other cuts and changes to Medicare rebates – like hip replacements and knee surgery.
In 2019 Scott Morrison announced a 10-year Primary Healthcare Plan, but true to form with this Prime Minister, the Plan was all announcement and no delivery. The Government even cut its own $450 million commitment to deliver the Plan.
The AMA said last month:
“The AMA had hoped the Commonwealth’s attitude to general practice would change, however, the long-awaited Primary Health Care 10 Year Plan released in last week’s Budget was simply more of the same. It delivered a welcome vision for general practice, but no funding to deliver that vision.”
The Royal College of GPs has warned that:
“Rising rates of chronic disease, an ageing population, the COVID-19 pandemic, delayed preventive care due to the pandemic and a looming mental health crisis are putting increasing pressure on the system, this is resulting in poorer outcomes and long hospital wait times. Unless there is significant investment and reform, the system will fail.”
Strengthening Medicare Fund
Labor will establish a Strengthening Medicare Fund to deliver better access and care for patients, with a commitment of $750 million over the forward estimates ($250 million a year from 2023-24) to deliver:
- Improved patient access to General Practice, including after-hours
- Improved patient access to GP led multidisciplinary team care, including nursing and allied health
- Greater patient affordability
- Better management of complex and chronic conditions, and
- Decreased pressure on Hospitals
The Fund will be delivered in line with recommendations from the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce which will immediately commence work deciding on and delivering the highest priorities to start fixing Scott Morrison’s GP crisis.
The Strengthening Medicare Taskforce will be chaired by the Minister for Health, bringing together Australia’s health policy leaders, including the Australian Medical Association, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine, the Consumer Health Forum, and the National Aboriginal Controlled Community Health Organisation.
Labor will finalise the full membership of the Taskforce in government, including representatives from nursing and allied health.
Strengthening Medicare GP Grants
An Albanese Labor Government will also deliver the Strengthening Medicare GP Grants program to invest $220 million in our local GP practices after a decade of Liberal cuts and neglect.
Labor’s Strengthening Medicare GP Grants program will provide funding for GPs to:
- Upgrade IT systems including to support telehealth consultations
- Upskill staff
- Purchase new equipment
- Upgrade ventilation and infection control, and
- Make other improvements to ensure GPs can see more patients and provide better care
Grants will be provided depending on GP practice size, with smaller practices being able to access grants of $25,000 and larger GPs being able to access grants of $50,000.
This added investment will provide a badly needed boost to practices so GPs can provide better care and see more patients.
Only Labor can be trusted to strengthen Medicare and end the GP crisis.
Today’s commitment is in addition to Labor’s existing health announcements, including:
- More doctors and health professionals for regional Australia boosting workforce incentives for rural and regional GPs to support the engagement of nurses, allied health and other health professionals and provide multidisciplinary team-based care.
- 50 New Medicare Urgent Care Clinics to take pressure off our emergency departments and make it easier for Australian families to see a doctor or nurse when they have an urgent, but not life threatening, need for care.
- Cutting the cost of medication by reducing the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme general co-payment from the current maximum of $42.50 per script, to a maximum of $30 per script.
- Restoring regional mental telehealth services for regional and remote telehealth psychiatry consultations.
- Newborn screening to increase the number of screened conditions from around 25 to 80, helping kids get the care they need from the start.
- First Nations health programs to build and improve health services, expand access to lifesaving dialysis treatment and double federal funding to help eradicate rheumatic heart disease.
- Supporting our nurses by establishing a National Nurse and Midwife Health Support Service.
- National Melanoma Nurse Network to deliver 35 extra melanoma nurses across every State and Territory.
Anthony Albanese said:
“Every day, everywhere I go, people talk to me about how it’s getting more and more difficult to see a doctor.
“General practice is the cornerstone of the Australian health system.
“Australians trust their GPs. It’s a vital relationship in ensuring all Australians get the quality healthcare they deserve.
“Only Labor has a plan to make it easier for Australians to see their GPs and to strengthen Medicare.”
Mark Butler said:
“Average out of pocket costs to see a GP have increased by 33 percent under this government, and Australian primary care is in crisis.
“Australians deserve better. Not only will Labor ensure Medicare is safe, we will strengthen it.
“Our local GPs were at the coalface of the COVID pandemic, providing COVID and vaccination advice, administering vaccines, and trying to keep up with their usual case load with little or no support from the Morrison Government.
“Our doctors deserve more than thanks. They deserve a Government that gives them the resources to deliver the best healthcare outcomes for Australians.
“Australian GPs have endured a 6-year Medicare Rebate Freeze at the hands of Scott Morrison, which ripped $2.6 billion out of Medicare funding.
“These cuts have left GPs struggling to invest in upgrading equipment and IT systems, struggling to upskill staff, and falling behind on their ability to see more patients.
“Labor understands the crucial importance of primary health care provided by GPs and will make it easier for Australians to see a doctor.”