General practice funding boost with MYEFO
AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone, welcomed the announcement of new funding for general practice in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) statement as a step in the right direction.
“This funding is a start, but so much more is needed to put general practice on a solid footing to continue to provide accessible and affordable high-quality primary care in the challenging years ahead,” Dr Bartone said.
The MYEFO statement announced $318.3 million in new funding for general practice, including $98 million in increased funding for GPs visiting residential aged care facilities, $146.5 million for targeted improvements for after-hours GP services, and $33.5 for GP telehealth services for rural patients.
Dr Bartone described the funding as “very targeted, whereas general practice really needs an across the board funding injection.”
Dr Bartone also noted that the boost to funding in aged care could be undermined by the planned abolition of the Aged Care Access Incentive (ACAI) payment from May next year.
“The ACAI must be retained. Otherwise, services to the frail and elderly in aged care facilities will be put at risk. There is an ever-increasing tide of GPs who are signaling an end to their aged care facility visits.”
A new MBS item number was also announced. It will be introduced for limited mobile chest and skeletal x-ray services for patients living in residential aged care facilities and will be available from 1 May 2019.
Dr Bartone said the MYEFO announcements and the Government’s commitment to further funding reform sends the right signal to general practice and all our hardworking GPs that the Government is listening and acknowledges the crucial role they play in communities right across the country.
“General practice is the most efficient part of the health system,” Dr Bartone said.
“GPs care for patients and families through all stages of life.
The AMA will continue to work with the Government to explore other areas to help significantly strengthen general practice to meet the future demands of a growing and ageing population and more patients living longer with chronic and complex health conditions.