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Key advocacy wins for GPs during 2018 -2019

17 Jul 2019

The AMA constantly advocates on behalf of general practitioners and rural health.

It was a very busy and very successful year for the Federal AMA in 2018-2019. Your elected representatives and the hardworking staff in the Secretariat in Canberra delivered significant achievements in policy, advocacy, political influence, professional standards, doctors’ health, media profile, and public relations.

We worked tirelessly to ensure that health policy and bureaucratic processes were shaped to provide the best possible professional working environments for Australian doctors and the highest quality care for our patients.

Key advocacy wins for GPs during 2018-2019 include:

  • Funding for coordinated care – AMA successfully lobbied the Government to provide funding to support GPs to deliver coordinated care for over 70s.
  • Workforce Incentive Program - Following AMA advocacy, the Government has delayed the implementation of the new Workforce Incentive Program (WIP) by six months to 1 January 2020. The AMA has consistently argued that implementation arrangements should allow for a reasonable transition period to give practices that will be impacted by the changes time to adjust. The WIP will replace the Practice Nurse Incentive Program (PNIP) and the General Practice Rural Incentives Program (GPRIP).
  • Medicare rebates freeze – AMA strong advocacy has resulted in Government agreeing to bring forward by one year the lifting of the five-year freeze on Medicare rebates for GP items to July 2019.
  • Funding for GP attendances at RACFs – AMA successfully lobbied the Government to increase funding for GPs visiting residential aged care facilities (RACFs).
  • Wound care – AMA strong advocacy has resulted in the establishment of a wound-management trial to run from 1 December 2019 to 30 June 2022 to test models of care for chronic wound management.
  • PIP Quality Improvement Incentive – AMA input and representation has led to a deferred commencement of the Practice Incentive Program (PIP) Quality Improvement (QI) Incentive to 1 August 2019. The changed time frame means that the four incentives (Asthma Incentive, Quality Prescribing Incentive, Cervical Screening Incentive and Diabetes Incentives), which were to cease on 1 May 2019, will continue through to 31 July 2019. AMA also successfully lobbied the Government to provide additional funding to support the PIPQI Incentive.
  • PIP Aged Care Access Incentive (ACAI) – AMA strong advocacy has resulted in the Government agreeing to retain the ACAI, ensuring that that visiting patients in the residential aged care facilities remain a viable proposition for GPs who are doing it.
  • Pharmacist in General Practice – AMA has strongly advocated for a Pharmacist in General Practice Incentive Program and Government’s decision to include non-dispensing pharmacists as part of the new Workforce Incentive Program delivers on that policy proposal.
  • Health Care Homes Trial – AMA successfully lobbied the Government for the Health Care Homes trial be extended by at least 12 months so that it can be properly evaluated. The Government has announced that the trial will now continue until 30 June 2021.
  • GP training – The AMA has championed the expansion of prevocational training places in general practice with a focus on rural areas. Government funding for 300 additional prevocational GP training places in rural areas as well as a commitment to fund 100 extra GP rural generalist training places delivers on that policy proposal.
  • Support for non-VR Doctors – AMA has long advocated for improved support for the non-VR doctors and has welcomed Government’s decision to provide incentives for doctors to qualify as vocationally recognised (VR) or specialist GPs and to practise outside major cities. Under the More Doctors for Rural Australia Program, Australian trained non-VR doctors will be able to receive a Medicare provider number to directly bill Medicare in Modified Monash 2-7 to encourage them to practise in private practices in rural and remote areas.
  • GP Video Consultations – AMA has welcomed an expansion of GP-to-patient telehealth services in the bush, to enable rural GPs to treat their patients over the phone or via videoconference when the tyranny of distance is impacting regular care. The AMA has long advocated for Government to extend MBS telehealth items to GP consultations for remote Indigenous Australians, aged care residents, people with mobility problems, and rural people who live some distance from GPs would considerably improve access to medical care for these groups.
  • Rural Procedural Grants Program – AMA advocacy has ensured continued funding of the Rural Procedural Grants Program (RPGP) and the General Practitioner Procedural Training Support Program (GPPTSP) to support rural generalist doctors to undertake training in procedural services in obstetrics, surgery, anaesthetics and emergency services in rural and remote areas.
  • Bonded medical placements – Following extensive lobbying by the AMA, both the Bonded Medical Places (BMP) and Medical Rural Bonded Scholarship (MRBS) programs will be radically overhauled. These changes will effectively standardise conditions for bonded medical graduates, moving away from the current contract-based arrangements. 
    The reformed arrangements will apply to all new participants from January 2020. In addition, existing BMP and MRBS participants will be able to opt into the new arrangements once they are in place, including in circumstances where they are already part way through meeting their current Return of Service (ROS) obligations.
  • National Rural Generalist Pathway – Following AMA advocacy, the Government has agreed to provide additional funding to fast track the National Rural Generalist Pathway program.

Published: 17 Jul 2019