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Department sees common sense over after hours contracts

12 Jun 2013

The AMA welcomes the decision by the Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) to issue new contracting guidelines to Medicare Locals for after hours GP services.

Under Government reforms, from 1 July this year, Medicare Locals will have responsibility for funding after hours GP services.

A number of Medicare Locals have moved to implement this change by requiring general practices to sign onerous contracts in return for funding. These Medicare Locals have stated that these contracts were required under the Deed for Funding between the Department and each Medicare Local, under which funding is provided for after hours services.

AMA Vice President, Professor Geoffrey Dobb, said today that the Department’s decision is a victory for common sense.

“These after hours contracts dramatically increase red tape and compliance costs, even though the new arrangements are virtually the same as the old arrangements,” Professor Dobb said.

“Many practices are simply getting the same funding as they previously received under the Practice Incentives Program administered by Medicare Australia.

“The extra red tape and onerous conditions contained in the contracts had led many GPs to contact the AMA for assistance.

“We understand that significant numbers of practices were yet to sign these contracts in the Medicare Local areas where they had been issued.

“Following representations from the AMA, the Department has now clarified that Medicare Locals are not required to include any terms of the Deed, or their equivalent, in contracts for after hours GP services. 

“The AMA now calls on Medicare Locals to follow these new guidelines and issue revised and simplified contracts for after hours GP services,” Professor Dobb said.

12 June 2013

CONTACT:         John Flannery                       02 6270 5477 / 0419 494 761
                          Kirsty Waterford                    02 6270 5464 / 0427 209 753

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Published: 12 Jun 2013