Government scraps proposed Medicare rebate changes

Health Minister Sussan Ley has announced the Government will scrap plans to cut the Medicare rebate for short doctor visits.

The rebate for GP consultations less than 10 minutes was due to be cut by about $20 from next Monday.

However, the move was set to be struck down by the Senate.

“I am deeply concerned by the misinformation that is causing confusion for patients and confusion for doctors,” Ms Ley said.

“As a result, I’m announcing today that the changes to level A and B Medicare consultation items will not commence on Monday as planned.

“The Government is taking them off the table.

“However, it remains critical that we implement changes to ensure quality care for Australians and a secure future for Medicare.”

Australian Medical Association president Brian Owler welcomed the announcement.

“I’m pleased for grassroots GPs and particularly for their patients because they were the ones that were going to bear the brunt of these changes and I think clearly common sense has prevailed,” he told the ABC.

“I’m very pleased it’s not going ahead with these level A and B rebate changes on Monday.

“What we will be doing is going through with the Minister a process of consultation, the process which should have happened previously to come up with ways that we can actually enhance general practice and make our healthcare system more sustainable in the future.”

Professor Owler said he was pleased the prospect of a Senate showdown over the changes had been avoided.

“I think at the end of the day the fact it was going to go through this parliamentary process of disallowance of the new regulations would have been an awful thing to go through for the GPs and patients,” he said.

“I think common sense has prevailed and the Minister and PM have ended the uncertainty about these changes and now are going to embark on the process of consultation that the AMA has requested all along they do.”