Low Medicare rebate, no bulk-bill say doctors

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) and the Doctors Reform Society have called for an increase in doctors' Medicare rebates after Medicare bulk-billing by general practitioners (where doctors charge Medicare directly for their services) dropped to a seven-year low. The AMA and the Doctors Reform Society claim that the Medicare rebate, given to doctors for patient visits, is not enough to bulk-bill and sustain a practice at the same time. Figures from the Health Insurance Commission indicate that 78 per cent of GP services were bulk-billed in the September 2000 quarter compared to more than 79 per cent for the same period the year before. AMA president Dr Kerryn Phelps predicts that unless the Medicare rebate is increased the number of doctors who bulk-bill will continue to fall. However, Minister for Health Dr Wooldridge has announced he will not consider increasing the Medicare rebate.

‘Miserly Medicare gets blame as GPs abandon bulk-billing', The Sydney Morning Herald, 19/12/00, p 2.