Medicare talks ongoing

The Federal Government will continue to consult with doctors and the broader community about changes to make Medicare more sustainable for the future, according to Health Minister Sussan Ley’s office.

A spokesman for Ms Ley said she had already met with the Australian Medical Association to discuss changes, which included a $20 reduction in the rebate amount general practitioners received when they spent less than 10 minutes with a patient.

“Under current rules, a GP can access Medicare rebates for up to 20 minutes, even if their patient is in and out the door in six minutes,” the spokesman said.

“These changes more accurately reflect the time a doctor spends with their patient and encourage longer GP consultations for better health outcomes, not ‘six minute medicine’.

“This is particularly true in the case of chronic and complex medical issues.”

AMA chair of the council of general practice Dr Brian Morton said there had been no “meaningful discussions” with the minister.

“Meaningful discussions are sitting down at a table… and going through the options as a continuing process for reform,” Dr Morton said.

Dr Morton said the AMA opposed the changes because they “attacked” all doctors for the actions of a minority.

“We oppose a business model that has its basis on six minute medicine, that has high throughput,” he said.

“We’ve got evidence that more than 99 per cent of the profession do the right thing.”

He said the AMA believed the problem could be fixed by rewarding doctors for quality care and increasing rebate amounts – an investment that would have better outcomes in the long term.

Meanwhile, Gippsland GPs representing 12 medical clinics met on Tuesday night to discuss the effects of the changes.

They have called for a moratorium on the proposed changes and have resolved to meet with local government, opposition and independent politicians to push the case for a resumption of universal primary health care for local people.