Reverse 8-year Medicare rebate freeze and reduce "gap" payments which patients must pay
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Labor froze the Specialist MBS Fee Schedule on 1 November 2012 and then imposed a “temporary freeze” of GP fees in 2013. The MBS fee freeze was extended to July 2020 by the LNP government in 2016. By 2020, MBS fees will have been frozen for 8 years for Specialists and 7 years for GPs. The LNP government recently announced increased spending of $23B by 2021 on the public hospital system. This reflects what every Australian knows - that health costs increase each year (but apparently not the costs of private specialist and GP practices which Bulk Bill!).
My practice bulk-billed thousands of electroencephalograms (EEGs) and other studies for 20 years, with zero cost to patients. We still bulk-bill nerve-conduction tests (NCS) and electromyography (EMG) but rising costs and the MBS fee freeze now threaten this. Recently I had to make the reluctant decision to cease providing (bulk-billed) EEGs, as the continuing MBS fee freeze made it impossible to cover the (high) cost. Most of our patients come from low socio-economic areas and I do not wish to charge them “gap” fees for NCS and EMG. Nor am I prepared indefinitely to subsidise Australia’s federal government in addition to paying ever-increasing taxes and charges.
The bottom line is that the government has forced my practice to cease performing bulk-billed EEGs. Most of the affected patients cannot afford gap fees and will need now to be referred to the public system, where increased costs and long waiting lists are likely.
By comparison, electricity prices in Australia have increased by 80-90% in real terms over the past decade, compared with wages during the past year (3.1%) and CPI (2.4%). CPI has risen by 11.2% since November 2012. Yet the MBS Fee Schedule remains frozen at 2012 levels, despite ever-increasing costs. This continued freeze means that most patients pay higher and higher “gap” fees in order to access medical appointments, as few medical specialists still bulk-bill. This affects you and your family’s access to affordable GP and specialist medical care.
Help prevent a two-tier health system developing in Australia, where those who can afford to pay for their medical treatment can access timely care and those who cannot are forced onto long waiting lists for public hospital care.
It is scandalous that the LNP government’s 8-year MBF fee freeze seems intended to prevent the few medical specialists who still bulk-bill from continuing to do so. Please sign and support this petition.
Professor John Corbett
Please note that I do not support the subsequent fundraising request for contributions. Please do not contribute, your signature alone is valued.
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