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Medicare

The following articles have the tag Medicare

Child death rates three times higher in NT

CHILDREN in the Northern Territory are more than three times more likely to die before they turn five than in the southern suburbs of Melbourne, a study shows.

New online STI screening bypasses GP consult

A NEW STI screening service will allow people to order pathology tests online without the need for a GP consultation.

Private insurers’ push into primary care could jack up costs

Private insurers’ push into primary care could jack up costs

OPPOSITION health spokeswoman Catherine King has warned that private health insurers’ entry into primary healthcare would be “fraught with danger” but said they may play a helpful role in new regional health networks.

AMA intent on changing govt policy

AMA intent on changing govt policy

The recent confusion over counting practice nurse time for health assessments is indicative of how the medical profession is assessing the federal government’s approach to general practice — and it is not good.

Apps and devices should be part of GP armoury

When my son drove out of the driveway alone for the first time earlier this year, it led me to think of how much had happened in 17 years — apart from the obvious, him growing from a baby to a young man taller than his father.

A challenge for mental health

A challenge for mental health

A program helping people with complex needs make big strides is in jeopardy, according to mental health workers.

Labor's Save Medicare campaign claim on training places

Labor's Save Medicare campaign claim on training places

Among the claims in Labor’s Save Medicare campaign ad is an old chestnut about GP training. Does it stack up?

Over-ordering of scans revealed

Over-ordering of scans revealed

TOO many GPs are ordering imaging tests for back problems on first presentation, according to the latest evaluation of BEACH data.

Health spending is not out of control: Owler

Health spending is not out of control: Owler

AMA president Associate Professor Brian Owler has rejected a fundamental premise of the government's budget health reforms, saying health spending is not out of control.

DHS apologises for practice nurse Medicare bungle

THE Department of Human Services has apologised to doctors for the long-running bungle over the use of practice nurses to help perform health assessments, saying Medicare hotline staff got the story wrong.

PSA and AMA plan ‘integration’ – to a point

PSA and AMA plan ‘integration’ – to a point

THE AMA and Pharmaceutical Society of Australia have teamed up to better integrate pharmacists into GP clinics as part of primary care teams, but disagreement remains on how to fund the collaboration.

MBS listing of HbA1c test on the cards

A GOVERNMENT-funded diagnostic HbA1c test for asymptomatic patients is in sight, with the recommendation that the test be listed on the MBS currently under consideration by Health Minister Peter Dutton.

GPs still being told to stop claiming nurses’ time

GPs have been alarmed in the past week to find confusion persists within the government over Medicare’s policy on the role of nurses in health assessments.

Crackdown on doctors’ rorts cost millions

Crackdown on doctors’ rorts cost millions

MEDICARE officials have revealed there was no risk system in place to avoid the haemorrhage of millions of dollars in a loss-making crackdown on doctors’ rorts.

New mothers missing out on diabetes testing

New mothers missing out on diabetes testing

WOMEN with a history of gestational diabetes may be missing out on appropriate testing for type 2 diabetes after they have given birth, according to researchers from Deakin University.

Practice kept medical records in garden shed

Practice kept medical records in garden shed

A MELBOURNE medical practice that stored nearly 1000 patients’ records in a garden shed has escaped the threat of prosecution and heavy fines because of the timing of the offence.

Practice nurse role in health assessments to stay

Practice nurse role in health assessments to stay

HEALTH authorities have agreed to make a clear statement upholding the role of practice nurses in performing health assessments, in a move hailed as a victory for preventive medicine in Australia.

GP co-payment would increase ED wait times: Experts

GP co-payment would increase ED wait times: Experts

The introduction of a GP co-payment could see average emergency department visits increase by between six minutes and almost three hours, new modelling shows, as more patients opt for free hospital care rather than paying to see their local general practitioner.

Dept says sorry for MBS item confusion, but doubts remain

THE Department of Human Services has apologised for a string of blunders that stripped practice nurses of their key role in conducting health assessments, restored it and then seemed less than sure.

It takes a village to birth a child

It takes a village to birth a child

The National Review of Maternity Services in 2008 signalled the start of significant reforms and changes for Australian maternity care.

Many patients will pay more than $7 fee

Many patients will pay more than $7 fee

A QUARTER of adult GP consultations will cost patients $14 or more in co-payments, and patients with type 2 diabetes will pay an average of $120 extra a year, according to new data from general practice research program Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health (BEACH).

Medicare policy on nurse rebates still confusing

Medicare policy on nurse rebates still confusing

DOCTORS are demanding Medicare rewrite its policy on rebates for health assessments after a week of confusion that saw nurses sacked and practices’ business plans upended.

Govt backflip on MBS claiming for nurses

THE government has swiftly scrapped a policy to disallow Medicare rebates for practice nurses who perform health assessments, only days after it was revealed.

Preserve equality, don’t compromise

Preserve equality, don’t compromise

Since the announcement of a no-exceptions $7 co-payment for general practice attendances, with a corresponding $5 cut in the current Medicare rebate, there has been much confusion.

Abbott backtracks on co-payment plan

Abbott backtracks on co-payment plan

PRIME Minister Tony Abbott has signalled for the first time that he is prepared to soften the impact of proposed $7 co-payments for GP services.

Dig deeper: health’s not a headline

Dig deeper: health’s not a headline

If your patients rely on the mainstream media for medical advice, they may well think that cancer has been cured many times over, and have other inflated views about the benefits of new treatments and tests.

Rethink rebate and co-payment: AMA

Rethink rebate and co-payment: AMA

THE AMA will ask the government to reverse the $5 rebate cut for practitioners and revise its proposed $7 co-payment after talks at the weekend.

‘No evidence of GP over-servicing’: Senate committee slams NCOA

THE National Commission of Audit (NCOA) has been slammed by a Senate committee which has reported that there was no evidence of over-servicing by GPs.

Sydney GP shares co-payment hometruths on national TV

Sydney GP shares co-payment hometruths on national TV

TALK of a cross-party ‘bromance’ between MPs Josh Frydenberg and Ed Husic on Monday night's Q&A program was briefly interrupted by a south-west Sydney GP with some home truths about the $7 co-payment's effects on his predominantly disadvantaged patient group.

Co-payments will spark competition

ANALYSTS expect the business environment for GPs will be increasingly fragmented and competitive in the brave new world of the co-payment.

New billing reviews lead to over-servicing accusations

THE government's stepped-up surveillance of billing patterns at corporate practices has reportedly netted nine doctors suspected of over-servicing.

Dutton on the sustainability of Medicare

Dutton on the sustainability of Medicare

The Health Minister says there's been a 42% growth in Medicare spending over the past five years. Is he right?

Glimmer of hope for prostate health

Glimmer of hope for prostate health

A new modality has the potential to change the face of prostate cancer diagnosis.

E-health: how long and at what cost?

E-health: how long and at what cost?

After the expenditure of $1 billion, is the personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR) — soon to be renamed MyHR — helping general practitioners deliver better care for our patients?

Streamline rural practice for survival

Streamline rural practice for survival

There are many opportunities for registrars working in rural areas to gain wide experience in caring for general practice patients, through providing primary healthcare in the clinic environment as well as undertaking hospital-based medicine.

Texting the talk: the power of virtual words

Texting the talk: the power of virtual words

Words are extraordinary things. And somewhat magical, too.

Budget spurs more docs to enter RACGP presidency race

Budget spurs more docs to enter RACGP presidency race

THE RACGP presidency is no longer a two-horse race, with three extra candidates joining the running before today's 4pm nomination deadline.

Medicare hotline pre-empts $7 fee

A PHONE message on the Department of Human Services’ Medicare hotline that appears to pre-empt the introduction of the government’s $7 co-payment and the $5 cut to the MBS rebate has been slammed by the Opposition as “misinformation”.

Owler's oath: I'll listen to GPs' advice

NO LONGER does a general practitioner lead the AMA, but the organisation’s new president, neurosurgeon Associate Professor Brian Owler, says Australia’s GPs need not be concerned.

Private insurer access to general practice back on agenda

Private insurer access to general practice back on agenda

PRIVATE insurer access to general practice is back on the agenda, with the health department admitting it has advised the government on changes to the Private Health Insurance Act.

Working out for inner health

Working out for inner health

An exercise physiologist will aid women with PCOS to engage in workouts vital for their health.

Women putting too much faith in IVF

FERTILITY experts have warned that many Australian women are delaying pregnancy because of a false sense of security about IVF success in their 40s.

Don’t can co-payment: Dutton appeals to Senate

Don’t can co-payment: Dutton appeals to Senate

HEALTH Minister Peter Dutton has urged crossbenchers not to take the obstructionist path over the proposed $7 GP co-payment that's central to the government's Medicare overhaul.

Specialist bulk-billing and safety nets need overhaul: study

THE government should consider creating an incentive for specialists to bulk-bill pensioners and children together with an overhaul of healthcare safety nets, a Senate inquiry has been told.

$7 fee scares patients away immediately

THE $7 co-payment plan for doctor visits has emptied waiting rooms and caused emotional scenes after the federal government revealed its price signal for medical services.

Authority scripts to be reviewed: Dutton

FEDERAL Health Minister Peter Dutton has pledged to cut red tape for doctors with a review of the authority system for prescriptions, to end unnecessary delays for some medicines.

Dutton vows to cut back authority scripts

Dutton vows to cut back authority scripts

HEALTH Minister Peter Dutton has pledged to cut red tape for doctors with a review of the authority system for prescriptions that will save $7 million a year.

Sharp drop in GP visits after co-payment announcement

THE planned $7 co-payment is already keeping patients away from the doctor, with practices reporting sharp drops in attendance after the so-called GP tax was announced.

PM winks as chronically ill pensioner reveals sex work

PM winks as chronically ill pensioner reveals sex work

PRIME Minister Tony Abbott has given a wink and smile while taking a call from a chronically ill pensioner who said she had to resort to phone sex work to make ends meet.

Specialists’ bills far outstrip GPs’ fees

AUSTRALIAN GPs are poorly rewarded while specialists earned three times more — a pay gap unmatched by any other OECD country except Belgium — Professor Peter Brooks has advised a Senate inquiry.

Inevitable co-burden of public anger

Inevitable co-burden of public anger

THE headline implication for the primary care sector in the 2014 budget is the introduction of a co-payment per service for GP services and out-of-hospital pathology and diagnostic imaging.

Budget hits the disadvantaged the hardest

THE 2014 health budget has created numerous roadblocks for people in need of quality primary healthcare.

Combine or find a cheaper alternative?

Combine or find a cheaper alternative?

COMBINATION therapies, particularly in respiratory medicine, are a recipe for confusion as well as cost blowouts.

Co-payment sparks social media protests

OPPONENTS of the federal government’s proposed co-payment for GP visits and medical services are rolling out information campaigns on the implications for doctors and the public.

No way! GPs reject co-payment move

No way! GPs reject co-payment move

A GRASSROOTS campaign has been backed by the RACGP which also launched its own against the government’s embattled $7 Medicare co-payment plan.

Co-payment unlikely to pass through Senate

Co-payment unlikely to pass through Senate

THE federal opposition has said it won't “horse-trade” over the government's planned Medicare co-payment, which looks unlikely to pass through the Senate.

Behind the biggest surprise of the budget

Behind the biggest surprise of the budget

No matter how you fund it, medical research is a good investment, says Walter and Eliza Hall Institute director Professor Douglas Hilton of the $20 billion medical research future fund.

Budget 2014: How you are affected

Budget 2014: How you are affected

THE federal budget amounts to the "murder of Medicare" and the end of bulk-billing, according to detractors who are not placated by the surprise announcement of a $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund.

Flawed figures: NCOA’s ‘deterrent’ fee fallacy

DOCTORS and economists have discredited the view that people are bleeding the health system with unnecessary GP visits — the rationale for a recommended upfront $15 fee for Medicare services.

Out-of-pocket costs driven by specialists

AUSTRALIAN GPs are poorly rewarded while specialists earned three times more – a pay gap unmatched by any other OECD country except Belgium - Professor Peter Brooks has advised a Senate inquiry.

$7 co-payment to be capped at 10 visits?

$7 co-payment to be capped at 10 visits?

IT NOW looks certain the Abbott government will include a co-payment to visit GPs in Tuesday's budget, but it will be about $7 and capped at 10 visits a year, according to media reports.

End of medical certificates? GPs to trial ‘fit note’ scheme

End of medical certificates? GPs to trial ‘fit note’ scheme

GPs will focus on patients’ strengths instead of their illnesses under a new program to help more Australians return to the workforce as they get over a debilitating condition.

FactCheck: does the average Australian go to the doctor 11 times a year?

FactCheck: does the average Australian go to the doctor 11 times a year?

NO matter how you count it, on investigation Tony Shepherd’s Audit report claim doesn’t add up.

AMA election race - Owler vs Dobb

AMA election race - Owler vs Dobb

THE next president of the AMA will not be a GP. Contenders Professor Geoff Dobb and Associate Professor Brian Owler explain why that may be a good thing.

NCOA’s GP figures a ‘sham’: RACGP

NCOA’s GP figures a ‘sham’: RACGP

THE National Commission of Audit's assertion that there are 50,000 general practitioners in Australia has been labelled a "sham" figure by the RACGP.

GPs warn: Co-payment will be an 'administrative nightmare'

THE National Commission of Audit's (NCOA) recommendation to introduce a co-payment for doctor visits and Medicare services would be an administrative nightmare for general practice, according to grassroots GPs and practice managers.

It’s no secret: Medicare Locals can save billions

THE release of the Independent Hospital Pricing Authority (IHPA) framework for Australian public hospital services for 2014—15 will result in a new way of funding public hospitals for the number and mix of patients they treat.

Mobile docs to avert mental health crisis

Mobile docs to avert mental health crisis

MEDICARE locals are using mobile clinicians to stave off a deepening mental health crisis in drought-ravaged rural Queensland in partnership with local councils and GPs.

Dutton’s commitment to GPs

THE federal health minister has committed to rebuilding general practice in his final major speech before the budget is handed down next week.

$15 co-payment based on ‘dangerous assumption’

THE National Commission of Audit’s (NCOA) proposed Medicare co-payment is based on a “very dangerous assumption” about over-servicing in the primary care system, RACGP president Dr Liz Marles has said.

Health experts respond to Commission of Audit recommendations

Health experts respond to Commission of Audit recommendations

ROD Moodie, Stephen Duckett, Philip Clarke, Anthony Harris and more give their verdict on the report's recommendations.

At a glance: What’s in store for health?

THE Australian health system faces major surgery if the National Commission of Audit’s (NCOA) recommendations are taken up by the government.

‘Money before lives’: AMA slams $15 co-payment

‘Money before lives’: AMA slams $15 co-payment

THE Commission of Audit’s report proposing a mandatory upfront fee of $15 for medical services has been rejected by the AMA as policy that would put saving money ahead of saving lives, while hitting GPs with extra costs.

$15 co-payment recommended by Commission of Audit report

THE National Commission of Audit has sensationally recommended a $15 co-payment for GP visits and Medicare services.

‘We’re committed to rebuilding general practice’: Dutton

‘We’re committed to rebuilding general practice’: Dutton

THE federal health minister today committed to rebuilding general practice in his final major speech before the budget is handed down on 13 May.

Not in the public interest: Govt won’t release PCEHR report

A FREEDOM of Information request to obtain a long-awaited report on the rollout of the personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR) has been rejected on the grounds its release is not in the public interest.

Vic govt warns against $6 GP charge

CHARGING $6 for GP visits will send more people to busy hospital emergency wards, Victoria's health minister warns.

Dutton compares Medicare to Kingswood

Dutton compares Medicare to Kingswood

LETTING private health insurers loose on primary care may be the answer to upgrading Australia’s outdated ‘Holden Kingswood-era’ Medicare system, according to Health Minister Peter Dutton.

$7 million on the line: beating Dutton’s axe

$7 million on the line: beating Dutton’s axe

THE Medicare Local behind a $7 million super clinic on the NSW south coast is confident it will not lose funding after the government suspended three super clinic projects last week.

Unbranded referral forms cut costs?

A PROPOSAL for GPs to use unbranded referral forms for diagnostic testing could result in poorer quality and fragmented care, the RACGP has warned.

Super clinic costs may be lost forever

A GP division contracted to deliver a $7 million super clinic in WA has been left in limbo and unsure whether it will be able to recoup any costs after the Coalition government suspended the project last week.

ED charge claim Labor 'scaremongering': Dutton

ED charge claim Labor 'scaremongering': Dutton

THE Abbott government has accused Labor of mounting a "disgraceful and alarmist" scare campaign over reports patients who crowd emergency departments with minor ailments may be charged.

Push for GP software to default to generics

AN INFLUENTIAL political think tank wants to reduce the influence of brands on GP prescribing and referrals for diagnostic testing as part of a drive to cut costs for patients.

Privacy minefield

Privacy minefield

SHARING or secrecy? E-health is forcing GPs to wrestle with competing demands while trying to protect patient privacy.

Bring on a ‘healthier’ 2016

SHADOW health minister Catherine King explains why she believes the 2016 election cannot come soon enough for the health sector.

Conscientious vax objections on the rise

Conscientious vax objections on the rise

AN IMMUNISATION expert believes that GPs should maintain a constructive dialogue with parents who decide against vaccinating their children, despite new data indicating a rise in the number of conscientious objectors.

New prostate imaging to solve PSA debate?

New prostate imaging to solve PSA debate?

A NEW imaging technique for diagnosing life-threatening prostate cancer has the potential to solve the PSA debate, according to the urologist behind a ground-breaking clinical trial.

Conscientious objection’s role in vax rates revealed

Conscientious objection’s role in vax rates revealed

ALMOST 20% of Australian children who are not fully immunised are from families with conscientious objections to vaccination, new statistics show.

Out-of-pocket healthcare costs inquiry expected

Out-of-pocket healthcare costs inquiry expected

AN INQUIRY into out-of-pocket healthcare costs is expected to get the green light in the Senate on Wednesday amid speculation about the government’s plans for Medicare.

Private health fund offers after-care for overseas surgery

PEOPLE considering surgery overseas should "do their homework" on a new private health fund service offering medical vetting and 12 months of after-care for offshore cosmetic or dental work, according to consumer group Choice.

Stature of GPs in dire need of public boost

DESPITE the responsibilities that GPs shoulder and the extent of expectations from them by all, their image is in dire need of improvement.

Limit private health insurer role in general practice: AMA

THE role of private health insurers in general practice must be targeted and limited, and a model that supports a greater role for GPs should be explored, according to the AMA.

Eradicate blues stigma on the road

Eradicate blues stigma on the road

MORE than three million Australians live with depression or anxiety, and recent figures show one in five has experienced symptoms in the past year.

Stronger partnerships needed between private health and GPs

GENERAL practice must form stronger partnerships with private health insurers (PHI) in order to deliver better coordinated patient care through new funding models, the AMA has said.

Healing ulcers with oxygen treatment

Healing ulcers with oxygen treatment

HYPERBARIC oxygen treatment is proving a useful adjunct to help heal foot ulcers.

Not urgent? No hospital ED

Not urgent? No hospital ED

LOW-ACUITY patients requesting ambulance services will soon be transferred to GP surgeries nationwide, according to doctors involved in a pilot of the model.

Dientamoeba fragilis

Dientamoeba fragilis

A NEW look at a parasite that may be the cause of irritable bowel symptoms.

Medicare means test and co-payment have public support

PROPOSALS to curb Medicare costs have earned the support of voters, with the latest Nielsen poll showing about half of those surveyed support measures such as the $6 co-payment and means-tested bulk-billing.

Medicare Local needs to be cut down to size

A MEDICARE Local covering an area twice the size of Tasmania must be sub-divided to ensure the needs of its diverse and distant population are properly met, according to a WA Wheatbelt region health administrator.

More GPs to join controversial Medibank scheme

MEDIBANK’s controversial program that guarantees members bulk-billed care and priority appointments at six Queensland general practices is set to expand by up to 24 additional sites.

PIP for teaching set to double?

A DOUBLING in PIP payments for GP teaching promised by the Coalition before the election last year looks likely to be included in the upcoming federal budget.

Budget cuts? Rebates for city GPs flagged

REBATES for inner-city GPs could be slashed while rebates for suburban and country GPs remain the same, according to the leak detailing proposed savings to Medicare.

PIP payments for teaching set to double

PIP payments for teaching set to double

A DOUBLING in PIP payments for GP teaching promised by the Coalition before the election last year looks likely to be included in the upcoming federal budget.

Medicare Local myths busted

Medicare Local myths busted

IT BEGGARS belief that Australia’s primary healthcare system stirs up misleading myths about its performance and purpose.

New boss walking the talk

New boss walking the talk

PROMINENT consumer advocate Carol Bennett tells MO why she agreed to take the reins at one of Australia’s leading MLs.

Vitamin D testing rates unsustainable

Vitamin D testing rates unsustainable

WITH an annual spend of around $140 million, and amid a Medicare review, pathologists have warned that the soaring rates of vitamin D testing are not supported by current guidelines.

Rich should cough up: Dutton

HEALTH Minister Peter Dutton has suggested that patients who can afford to pay more for GP services may be asked to begin making co-payments for previously bulk-billed care.

Co-payment will send patients to ED instead

THE ANNUAL cost of running South Australia’s public hospital emergency departments would triple to $2 billion if the federal government introduces a $6 patient co-payment for GP services, Labor has argued.

Medicare unsustainable, govt says

Medicare unsustainable, govt says

FEDERAL Treasurer Joe Hockey has warned that Australia will run out of money to pay for Medicare and its welfare and education systems unless the government takes a hard look at the costs.

If you can afford it, make a co-payment: Dutton

If you can afford it, make a co-payment: Dutton

HEALTH Minister Peter Dutton has suggested that Australians who can afford to pay more for GP services may be asked to begin making co-payments for previously bulk-billed care.

Co-payment support builds

SUPPORT appears to be building for the controversial proposal to introduce a $6 co-payment for bulk-billed GP services.

Dramatic impact from $450 lifestyle program

Dramatic impact from $450 lifestyle program

MASS action program on diabetes appears to inspire weight loss among participants.

Paying for your health

Paying for your health

A CO-PAYMENT for bulk-billing threatens the concept of free healthcare. How ready are we to let go of this service?

PBS co-payment hike for self funded retirees

THE Opposition has warned the PBS co-payment for self-funded retirees who hold Commonwealth Seniors Health Cards could more than double if a proposal put forward by health department bureaucrats last year is accepted by the government.

Govt health vision needs to be revealed

AFTER winning the general election “with almost no health policy” the time has come for the Coalition government to outline its vision and priorities, an expert has argued.

Contraception: finding the right fit

Contraception: finding the right fit

THE ability to control one’s fertility, avoid unintended pregnancy and to space children, if desired, is a fundamental right.

Labor warns of PBS co-payment hike for self-funded retirees

THE Opposition has warned that the PBS co-payment for self-funded retirees who hold Commonwealth Seniors Health Cards could more than double if a proposal put forward by health department bureaucrats last year is accepted by the government.

Govt spend on GP patients rises just $2.80

THE case for a $6 co-payment for bulk-billed GP visits has been further undermined by a new report showing Commonwealth spending on general practice services has risen just $2.80 for each Australian over the past five years.

Spend on GP services up $2.80 per patient over five years

THE case for a $6 copayment for bulk-billed GP visits has been undermined by a new report showing Commonwealth spending on general practice services has risen just $2.80 for every Australian over the past five years.

Will $6 help line coffers or hurt health?

Will $6 help line coffers or hurt health?

THERE are many strong advocates of free access to healthcare.

Refugees need extra support from GPs

AUSTRALIAN doctors should be mindful about the needs of refugees, many of whom are likely to be confused by an unfamiliar health system, say the authors of a new study.

Large trial to clarify role of vitamin D

Large trial to clarify role of vitamin D

ONE of the world’s largest clinical trials of vitamin D supplementation is set to get under way in Australia in an attempt to provide definitive answers about its role in disease prevention.

Older Aussies happiest to share e-records with GPs

LESS than half of older Australians are willing to share the full contents of their personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR) with allied health and other non-GP health professionals, a survey has found.

Private insurers to cost the public

IF PRIVATE health insurers continue their foray into general practice, the cost of GP consultations could increase, a health economist has warned.

Co-payment? Doctors need to be consulted first

THE AMA last week had a simple message for any government considering a mandatory co-payment for bulk-billed GP visits: Whatever you do, consult doctors first.

CT costs rise, MRI approval still in doubt

AS MEDICARE approval for GPs to order MRIs for back pain remains under a cloud, the public cost of CT scans continues to climb.

Older Aussies happiest to share e-records with GPs

LESS than half of older Australians are willing to share the full contents of their personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR) with allied health and other non-GP health professionals involved in their care, a survey has revealed.

Government denies co-payment plans

Government denies co-payment plans

THE Coalition government has distanced itself from suggestions that it will consider introducing a $6 co-payment for GP visits.

Co-payment conflict in Glasson’s by-election bid

FORMER AMA president and Coalition by-election candidate Dr Bill Glasson is facing a close-range battle over his support for a proposed $6 co-payment for GP visits, with Labor choosing the seat he is contesting to launch a campaign against the move.

GP co-payment would ease workload: Mal Washer

A COMPULSORY $6 co-payment for bulk-billed GP visits would rein in Medicare overuse, encourage people with chronic disease to “self-screen” and ease the burden on overworked doctors, a former Liberal MP and GP has said.

MLs not delivering: AMA review submission

MLs not delivering: AMA review submission

MEDICARE Locals do not communicate effectively with GPs, do not understand their own roles and have disenfranchised those previously involved in after-hours care according to the AMA.

McDonald’s trials home delivery – in Sydney’s west

McDonald’s trials home delivery – in Sydney’s west

ORDERING a burger and fries for dinner just became easier for residents in Western Sydney, with the introduction of home delivered McDonald’s.

2014 prediction – Dr Arn Sprogis

2014 prediction – Dr Arn Sprogis

2014 will be the year when primary care takes centre stage in the Australian healthcare system.

Red tape, bureaucracy ‘strangling’ general practice

GPs spend at least nine hours a week dealing with red tape that is “strangling” general practice, according the AMA.

Top issues of 2013

YEAR in review – we chart the highs and lows.

Sex in surgery GP suspended

A GP has had his registration suspended for nine months for having sex in his surgery with a patient who then claimed for the consultations on Medicare.

Summit push for obesity to be defined as a disease

Summit push for obesity to be defined as a disease

OBESITY should be classified as a disease, an obesity summit was told this morning.

Candidates seek AMA top job

TWO high-profile specialists have declared their candidacy for the AMA’s top job with six months to go until the next presidential election.

Contenders line up for AMA presidential race

Contenders line up for AMA presidential race

WITH six months to go before the next AMA presidential election, two high-profile specialists have already declared their candidacy for the top job.

Patients with diabetes visit GPs eight times a year

PATIENTS with type 2 diabetes spend an extra hour a year with their GP compared to other patients, according to new data which has prompted renewed calls for an improved approach to funding for management of the condition.

No free healthcare for those who make unhealthy choices?

A MEDICARE Local CEO has surprised colleagues by saying she does not believe in free universal healthcare, and by suggesting people should be punished financially for unhealthy lifestyle choices.

Long consults affected by crackdown

ECONOMIC considerations may be preventing GPs from providing longer consultations, after a decline sparked by audit anxiety.

Public profile of MLs needs to be lifted

MEDICARE Locals have been told to dramatically lift their public profile, after a survey found almost a third of community sector workers had a “poor” or “very poor” understanding of their function.

No free universal health for unhealthy choices: McRuvie

No free universal health for unhealthy choices: McRuvie

A MEDICARE Local CEO has surprised colleagues by saying she does not believe in universal free healthcare, and by suggesting people should be punished financially for their unhealthy lifestyle choices.

Over 600,000 ED presentations avoidable

Over 600,000 ED presentations avoidable

MORE than 635,000 hospital visits — 7% of all presentations — are avoidable.

PSR sanctions GP treating 500 in one day

A GP who billed Medicare for more than 500 patient consults in one day and more than 200 on 29 other days has accepted undisclosed sanctions from the Professional Services Review (PSR).

600k ED presentations avoidable: report

MORE than 635,000 hospital visits – 7% of all presentations – are avoidable. And people in some rural areas are almost three times as likely to go to hospital when they could go to a GP instead, according to a new report.

PSR sanctions GP treating 500 patients in a day

A GP who made Medicare claims for seeing more than 500 patients in one day and more than 200 on 29 other days has accepted undisclosed sanctions from the Professional Services Review (PSR).

RFDS to open another GP clinic

RFDS to open another GP clinic

HOT on the wings of its Queensland counterpart, the Royal Flying Doctor Service is set to open a general practice clinic in NSW, in the outback town of Broken Hill.

Experts back greater use of IUDs, implants

FAMILY planning experts are calling for increased prescribing of long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) to cut unintended pregnancy and abortion rates.

Change: it should only be for the better

Change: it should only be for the better

THE key message about how the Abbott government wants to go about business — methodically, sensibly and calmly — is exactly what is required to build on the achievements of the national network of Medicare Locals.

VaxiGrants a hit with creative thinkers

A MOBILE GP clinic for the homeless, vaccination clinics in kindergartens and an Indigenous hip hop music video were among the bright ideas in immunisation to receive a $20,000 VaxiGrant at the GP13 conference in Darwin last week.

MBS rebate freeze won’t work: AMA

A PROPOSAL for a four-year freeze of MBS rebates and a flat $6 patient co-payment fee in place of bulk-billing arrangements has been rejected by the AMA.

Fire response help from GPs

Fire response help from GPs

GPs from bushfire affected regions of NSW have been heavily involved in the response effort, manning evacuation centres to treat minor injuries and ensuring vital medications remain available to patients.

No rebates for unscientific blood tests?

No rebates for unscientific blood tests?

IRIDOLOGISTS, reflexologists, and other practitioners offering blood tests without scientific basis should be stripped of government and private insurance rebates, and their patients told they are not getting a legitimate health service.

Geographic link to overweight and obesity

Geographic link to overweight and obesity

THE link between Australia’s obesity epidemic and rural and lower socioeconomic communities has been confirmed in the latest government figures, prompting calls for legislation forcing junk food companies to make their products more healthy.

GP embroiled in ‘infatuation’ case deregistered

A GP hit with an unprofessional conduct finding after forming a close relationship with a patient whose “infatuation” led her to send more than 300 pages of love letters has had his registration cancelled for at least one year.

GPs do $15,000 of unpaid work

EVERY year GPs do at least $15,000 worth of work for their patients outside billable consultations, equivalent to about nine free appointments a week, research shows.

GPs do $15,000 a year worth of unbillable work

GPs do $15,000 a year worth of unbillable work

EVERY year GPs do at least $15,000 worth of work for their patients outside billable consultations, equivalent to about nine free appointments a week, research shows.

MBS rebate freeze here to stay: Coalition

MBS rebate freeze here to stay: Coalition

THE Coalition government is unable to reverse the freeze on MBS rebates, following the AMA’s move to increase its recommended Level B consult fee from $71 to $73, Health Minister Peter Dutton said today.

Non-surgical weight loss gives new hope

Non-surgical weight loss gives new hope

NEW endoscopic obesity treatment avoids surgical and pharmacological intervention.

Assistants to boost rural practices

Assistants to boost rural practices

PHYSICIAN assistants should be trained to work with GPs in rural and remote Australia and pharmacists given a greater role in primary care to boost access in neglected parts of the country, according to a think tank.

Coaching program helps tackle mood

Coaching program helps tackle mood

OUTREACH self-help program aims to curb progression of early depression and anxiety.

Call to ease GP load with assistants and pharmacists

PHYSICIAN assistants should be trained to work with GPs in rural and remote Australia and pharmacists given a greater role in primary care to boost access in neglected parts of the country, according to a think tank.

Call to introduce real-time prescription monitoring

Call to introduce real-time prescription monitoring

BLEAK figures on the increase in deaths due to acute prescription drug toxicity in Victoria in the first half of the year provide new impetus for introducing real-time prescription monitoring, an expert believes.

Mutilation or surgery?

Mutilation or surgery?

CONCERN is increasing about the pathologising of normal female genitalia.

Invest in primary health, it’s so vital

Invest in primary health, it’s so vital

THE role of general practice and other primary healthcare services in maintaining the health of Australians is often overshadowed by the demands on hospital services.

Labor’s legacy

Labor’s legacy

AS THE curtains close on one of Labor’s most difficult periods in government, Byron Kaye looks back over six years of health programs, promises and problems.

$300k boost to help pain management

$300k boost to help pain management

A $300,000 pain management education and training initiative for GPs, nurses and allied health professionals aims to reduce waiting times at pain clinics as well as reliance on medication.

Patients disadvantaged by telehealth rules

THE failure to make GP-facilitated telehealth consultations with hospital-based specialists eligible for MBS rebates is limiting the potential of the system while disadvantaging patients, according to the Queensland health minister.

Medicare urgently needs overhaul

DESPITE developing into the “bedrock of the Australian healthcare system” over the last three decades, Medicare is in urgent need of an overhaul to keep up with the times, experts say.

Labor takes final dig at the Coalition’s health policy – with cake

LABOR has used the occasion of Medicare’s 30th birthday, just ahead of the federal election, to take a final swipe at the Coalition’s health policy agenda.

A healthy election mix of dollars and promises

ANOTHER $80 billion for hospitals, $1.1 billion for mental health, and a resurrected voluntary euthanasia bill — these are among some of the election promises from the minor parties ahead of this week’s election.

Whose health policy gets your vote?

Whose health policy gets your vote?

Health Minister Tanya Plibersek and Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Primary Healthcare, Dr Andrew Southcott, make a final pitch on why they should be elected.

Dutton out of the shadows

Dutton out of the shadows

After six years as Opposition health spokesman, Peter Dutton tells MO why he’s ready to step out into the spotlight.

Doctor designs his own PC MBS app

A GP working on a small island in the Northern Territory’s remote Arnhem Land has developed a PC app that he hopes will help transform and streamline the way doctors use Medicare items.

Coeliac gene test ‘pretty useless’

GPs are being urged not to bow to patient requests for inappropriate genetic tests for coeliac disease.

Few sparks in health debate

Few sparks in health debate

TANYA Plibersek and Peter Dutton have shown why health is not a major election issue.

Dutton aims to deliver for GPs

Dutton aims to deliver for GPs

THE man in line to possibly become Australia’s next health minister has accused Tanya Plibersek of having “barely contained contempt for doctors” and pledged to rebuild the eroded standing of general practice.

No tax benefit for vax objectors

No tax benefit for vax objectors

PRIME Minister Kevin Rudd has upped the ante in his war against the anti-vaccination lobby, threatening to withhold family tax benefits worth thousands of dollars from parents whose children are not fully inoculated.

Web-based tool increases number of GPMP reviews

Web-based tool increases number of GPMP reviews

A WEB-BASED chronic care management system increases follow-up of patients with diabetes who have GP management plans, four times more than the national average, research shows.

Docs may lose rights to practise

Docs may lose rights to practise

SOME 600 doctors with limited registration could lose their right to practise next month unless they switch to the general registration category and commit to undertaking CPD, as well as take out medical indemnity.

Abbott launches Coalition’s health policy

Abbott launches Coalition’s health policy

OPPOSITION Leader Tony Abbott has formally launched the Coalition's health policy, saying it would maintain existing levels of spending on health services if elected.

Hundreds of doctors could soon lose right to practise

SOME 600 doctors with limited registration could lose their right to practise next month unless they switch to the general registration category and commit to undertaking CPD, as well as take out medical indemnity.

Coalition’s ML support ‘reassuring’

Coalition’s ML support ‘reassuring’

THE Coalition’s commitment to provide “in-principle support” for Medicare Locals is a reassuring sign for communities across Australia, the AML Alliance has said.

Coalition’s ML support ‘reassuring’

Coalition’s ML support ‘reassuring’

THE Coalition’s commitment to provide “in-principle support” for Medicare Locals is a reassuring sign for communities across Australia, the AML Alliance has said.

GP’s friendship with infatuated patient ends in tribunal

A GP who continued to treat and have a close friendship with a patient whose “infatuation” led her to send him more than 300 pages of love letters has been slapped with a finding of unprofessional conduct.

Reform has failed to fix funding: Bennett

FLAWS in funding and governances that fragment healthcare delivery in Australia have not yet been resolved after five years of reform, according to the former chair of the National Health and Hospital Reforms Commission.

Margin at 2010 federal election

THE problem is that both parties want to provide a high-volume low-cost health service, but nobody is prepared to accept the fact that bulk-billing doesn’t work.

Disability forms and psychologist input

GPs no longer have the sole responsibility for establishing a patient’s fitness for work due to a change introduced to the application for the disability support pension (DSP).

Push patients to be proactive — it’s their health

AUSTRALIA needs an education program to assist people to be effective as users of the health system — essentially to be ‘good patients’.

Direct-to-consumer DNA genetic testing

Direct-to-consumer DNA genetic testing

THIS Update looks at the direct-to-consumer approach in DNA gene testing and considers its role in healthcare.

No tax benefit for anti-vax parents if I’m elected, says Rudd

PRIME Minister Kevin Rudd has upped the ante in his war against the anti-vaccination lobby, threatening to withhold family tax benefits worth thousands of dollars from parents whose children are not fully inoculated.

SPECT/CT: A general practice perspective

SPECT/CT: A general practice perspective

THIS Update discusses the workings and advantages of SPECT/CT imaging.

ACT doctor-patient ratio on the rise: study

THE ACT’s long-standing GP shortage appears to be easing with a new report indicating the territory’s doctor to patient ratio has improved in line with the national average.

‘Superior’ PSA test should be offered: expert

AN INTERNATIONAL prostate cancer expert believes Australia should make better use of a newly approved version of PSA testing.

Promoting health check should be ML priority

MEDICARE Locals have a key role in promoting greater uptake of the 45-year-old health check, an expert has claimed following the publication of disturbing statistics on vascular health.

Mend Medicare calls for urgent overhaul

Mend Medicare calls for urgent overhaul

A COALITION of health groups has called for the next federal government to commit to a radical overhaul of Medicare, arguing that the 30-year-old scheme fails patients with chronic conditions and works only for acute conditions.

Greens’ pledge to reverse rebate freeze welcomed

DOCTORS and patients have praised the Greens’ “leadership” on health funding, following a pre-election pledge to reverse the government’s freeze on MBS rebates.

Ray Seidler 1952 – 2013

DR RAY Seidler was an avid tweeter, public speaker and contributor to publications like Medical Observer when he wasn’t busy with his day job as GP to Sydney’s most disenfranchised.

Teething problems

Teething problems

AHPRA will soon face its third parliamentary inquiry in two years. But are attitudes to the once controversial scheme changing?

Put health front and centre of election debate, say GP bodies

DOCTORS have called on the major parties to put health at the centre of the political debate in the run up to the 7 September election.

Sharp decline in mental health related GP visits

GROWTH in mental health related GP visits has slowed sharply despite an overall trend showing more Australians are seeking mental health treatment, new Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) figures show.

‘Visionary’ Dr Prasad killed in accident

A PROMINENT South Australian GP killed in a car accident was a generous and benevolent “visionary” committed to helping others.

Neuropsychological assessments

Neuropsychological assessments

THIS Update looks at neuropsychological assessments and the differences between clinical psychologists and clinical neuropsychologists.

Primary care benefit to cancer cases

Primary care benefit to cancer cases

AMERICAN academics have investigated how general practice management of breast cancer affects patient outcomes.

Behind the news – Medicare Locals

Behind the news – Medicare Locals

EARLIER this month a national survey of 1400 Australians revealed that almost three-quarters of respondents had no idea what role or purpose Medicare Locals played in the primary healthcare system.

GPs should act as a ‘filter’ for Dr Google

FACEBOOK and Google are trusted sources of health information for many Australians, according to research that serves as a reminder of the ‘filter’ role GPs must play, an expert maintains.

Take notice of MLs’ effect, it’s positive

Take notice of MLs’ effect, it’s positive

AS THE nation embraces the political spin and campaigning that dominate the media and water cooler conversations each election year, I have been reflecting on the health reform agenda and where Medicare Locals are now sitting within the broader primary healthcare setting.

Plibersek’s $13.5m boost for primary care

PRIMARY care research is set to receive a $13.5 million shot in the arm after Health Minister Tanya Plibersek announced additional funding for the sector via the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

Experts debate GP-led bowel screening

GP LEADERS are calling for a new approach to curb the falling bowel cancer screening program participation rates that would see a rebate for testing added to the Medicare Benefits Schedule.

No GP ‘stupid enough’ for this rural role

A TOWN in the Medicare Local area with Australia’s highest level of chronic disease remains without a GP as the last man in the job said no one was “stupid enough” to accept the 24 hours a day, seven days a week grind.

Rudd telehealth grant to save nurses time

A $2.5 million telehealth grant from the Rudd government for an aged care provider will save nurses travelling 8000km a year.

Plibersek’s $13.5m boost for primary care research

Plibersek’s $13.5m boost for primary care research

PRIMARY care research is set to receive a $13.5 million shot in the arm after Health Minister Tanya Plibersek announced additional funding for the sector via the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

Reining in statin scripts

Reining in statin scripts

STATINS may be efficacious in cardiovascular protection, but is their unfettered use fuelling the diabetes epidemic?

Weight management

Weight management

This Update looks at the psychology of food, eating, weight and body image.

Demand up for ovarian cancer gene testing

NEW guidelines on testing for genetic mutations in patients with ovarian cancer could place extra pressure on already stretched resources, following publicity surrounding high-profile celebrity cases, an expert believes.

Rudd, overturn CPD tax cap: AMA

Rudd, overturn CPD tax cap: AMA

THE AMA has gotten on the front foot with the rebooted Rudd government, calling on it to make healthcare a priority and – especially – overturn the Gillard government’s $2000 cap on tax deductions for work-related education expenses.

Call for dementia MBS item to see carers

A NEW Medicare Benefits Schedule item to allow GPs to bill for consultations with the carers of patients with dementia would improve diagnosis rates, GP groups and experts say.

GP to offer homeless, needy free medical service

A VICTORIAN GP is part of the team behind a new service that will provide free medical services to the homeless and those in need.

Identifying frailty a clue to prognosis

Identifying frailty a clue to prognosis

QUESTION: Does identifying frailty help clinical decision making in primary care?

Rural WA GPs on the rise

GP NUMBERS in rural and remote Western Australia have risen for the first time since 2008, on the back of an increase in the number of fly-in, fly-out doctors and GP registrars working in the areas.

Behind the news – MO asks experts for their opinions on the issues making headlines

MEDICARE Locals have begun reworking after-hours contracts with general practices to remove clauses that would have granted ML and government officials the right to enter practices and access records for auditing.

Uniform e-software urgent as practices ‘bamboozled’

THE AMA has repeated its call for a single personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR) software product, amid concerns practices are being “bamboozled” with information from vendors ahead of the last deadline to qualify for incentive payments.

Budget shortchanges primary health sector

DESPITE cautious optimism, general practice was largely let down by the May federal budget.

More GPs working in remote WA

More GPs working in remote WA

GP NUMBERS in rural and remote Western Australia have risen for the first time since 2008, on the back of an increase in the number of fly-in, fly-out doctors and GP registrars working in the areas.

Cartilage repair options

Cartilage repair options

TREATMENT for established osteoarthritis remains as yet elusive.

Balancing bulk-billing: can it be sustained?

THE government has thrown down the gauntlet with its Medicare cost savings. Static rebates will raise much odium with GPs.

Marketing tests to public is ‘unethical’

A COMPANY offering screening for stroke and heart disease that targets consumers through the post has been accused of being “unethical” and exploiting public ignorance about the potential harms of inappropriate testing.

Vit D testing for high-risk patients only: RCPA

VITAMIN D testing should be reserved for patients at high risk of deficiency, according to a new position statement from the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (RCPA).

‘We’ll up our fees’: GPs reject freeze

GENERAL practices have rejected the government’s rationale for placing an eight-month freeze on MBS rebates, with some practices already confirming plans to increase gap fees and axe bulk-billing of even disadvantaged patients.

CT scans raise cancer risk in kids

CT scans raise cancer risk in kids

CHILDREN undergoing computed tomography (CT) scans have a 24% higher risk of developing cancer than those who have not had CT scans, Australian research has found.

Subsidy row prompts GP walkout

THE provision of emergency services by GPs to a South Australian region was last week hanging in the balance as ‘constructive’ talks began following a mass walkout of up to 40 GPs over the level of state government subsidies.

Kids at higher cancer risk after CT scans

Kids at higher cancer risk after CT scans

CHILDREN undergoing CT scans have a 24% higher risk of developing cancer than those who have not had scans, Australian research has found.

Double billing crackdown challenged

Double billing crackdown challenged

GPs have challenged the government to provide evidence justifying the need for a crackdown on ‘double billing’ of chronic disease management (CDM) and standard consult item numbers.

Baby steps to preventive health

Baby steps to preventive health

The Healthy Kids Check aims to detect medical issues early. But critics argue it’s a symptom of family medicine’s decline.

Make kids’ vax records compulsory

PARENTS could be forced to show schools documentation of their children’s vaccination history, as Health Minister Tanya Plibersek calls for a nationally consistent policy on vaccination.

Leaders voice their budget views

Dr Liz Marles President, RACGP

Health gets a fair deal in this budget

DESPITE the savings measures, health has actually done remarkably well when you look at the cuts elsewhere in this budget.

Fears doctors’ premiums will rise to fund disability scheme

A MAJOR indemnifier has demanded the federal government reassure doctors their premiums won’t go up to fund the $19 billion national disability insurance scheme, DisabilityCare Australia, saying the budget failed to explain where the full amount would come from.

‘Dumbing down the health system’ – doctors dissect budget

FREEZING Medicare rebates, targeting MBS double-dipping, and capping tax-deductible CPD costs claimed by doctors are all part of sweeping savings measures in the federal budget.

Budget round-up: How health fared

Budget round-up: How health fared

THE government is set to net $644 million over four years by freezing indexation of Medicare rebates at current levels until 1 July 2014 as part of savings measures in the federal budget.

Budget round-up: How health fared

Budget round-up: How health fared

THE government is set to net $644 million over four years by freezing indexation of Medicare rebates at current levels until 1 July 2014 as part of savings measures in the federal budget.

Diagnostic errors claiming 4000 lives annually

UP TO 4000 Australians die every year as a result of diagnostic error yet there is still no comprehensive system to work out the causes, an international diagnostic error expert has said.

Commonwealth to appeal PSR case

A GP’s legal victory when a court ruled the appointment of a Professional Services Review panel was wrong could be questioned, with a judge clearing the Commonwealth to appeal the decision before the full bench of the High Court.

Preparing for a pandemic

Preparing for a pandemic

Is Australia any closer to establishing a centre for communicable disease control to respond to bird flu and other outbreaks?

Let’s engage in public/private partnerships

THERE is a global trend of governments attempting to re-orientate health systems traditionally focused upon hospital care, to an emphasis on primary and population healthcare.

Hambleton’s third year will focus on teaching

DR STEVE Hambleton will have the rare privilege of serving a third one-year term as AMA president, saying his priority will be teaching and training the next generation.

The federal budget: what GPs want

The federal budget: what GPs want

THE nation is this week digesting the details of the federal budget. See MO online for our coverage of the fallout.

Govt wants vaccination documentation before kids start school

PARENTS could be forced to show schools documentation of their children’s vaccination history, as Health Minister Tanya Plibersek calls for a nationally consistent policy on immunisation.

‘Hands off Medicare’, AMA tells government

SPECULATION of a potential freeze on MBS rebates has led to a call from doctors for the government to keep its “hands off Medicare” ahead of next week’s federal budget.

ML and uni join to create GP database

A MEDICARE Local and a university are partnering to create what will be one of the country’s biggest databases of general practice information.

Addicts ‘not welcome’ in practices: survey

Addicts ‘not welcome’ in practices: survey

DRUG addicts “are not welcome in general practice” and more accessible specialist support would greatly facilitate GPs to prescribe opioid substitution therapy (OST), new Australian data shows.

Medicare Local minefield

Medicare Local minefield

THE funding of the police department appears to be shifting from a state responsibility to that of GPs.

Addicts ‘not welcome’ in practices: survey

Addicts ‘not welcome’ in practices: survey

DRUG addicts “are not welcome in general practice” and more accessible specialist support would greatly facilitate GPs to prescribe opioid substitution therapy (OST), new Australian data shows.

Government probe on over-servicing

AT LEAST 60 medical centres, each with multiple doctors approaching inappropriate levels of MBS billing, are in the federal government’s sights as part of a Medicare crackdown on over-servicing.

Genome roadmap

Genome roadmap

TESTS identifying gene variations that determine how we metabolise drugs could revolutionise medical practice.

Young lives in the balance

Young lives in the balance

PAIN management is even more challenging when it affects paediatric patients.

An unglamorous vocation

An unglamorous vocation

DR SIMON Holliday explains why he remains committed to addiction medicine despite its complex pitfalls.

Snapshot of Australia’s health

Snapshot of Australia’s health

THE healthiest Australians live in western Brisbane, according to a new national snapshot.

Rebate rise may save addiction specialty

ADDICTION medicine specialists have called for an urgent increase in MBS rebate levels, arguing the lack of adequate remuneration could lead to the demise of the specialty.

Govt gets tougher on practices with co-located services

Govt gets tougher on practices with co-located services

GPs in group practices with co-located health services will be subject to increased scrutiny of their Medicare billing as part of a newly announced review targeting overservicing.

One step closer to ‘medical home’

GPs came a step closer to receiving Medicare rebates for enrolling and coordinating treatment of patients with chronic diseases last week when Health Minister Tanya Plibersek said she would consider the RACGP’s long-awaited ‘medical home’ proposal.

Bulk-billing reliance will undermine healthcare: AMA

THE AMA has warned the government that a continued reliance on bulk-billed services will eventually undermine the quality of healthcare, following the release of fresh MBS billing data.

An epidemic of numbing proportions

XANAX – the name is palindromic. It is the tranquilliser on everyone’s lips.

Govt backs ML plan to continue PIPs

THE federal government has backed a Medicare Local’s (ML’s) plan to continue after hours practice incentive payments (PIPs) the same way they have been run under Medicare, opening the door for other MLs to follow.

Medicare Locals name to go under review

HEALTH Minister Tanya Plibersek has confirmed a planned review of the Medicare Locals initiative – set to begin early in 2013 – will evaluate whether the contentious moniker given to the entities is “suitable for its purpose”.

Best of 2012: Top 20 apps for GPs

With tens of thousands of medical apps now available, anyone can have excellent clinical, consumer and business tools at their fingertips. Here are the top 20 most recommended for GPs.

Chronic care items favour lower income groups

MEDICARE spending on chronic care items is primarily being used by patients from lower income households, according to research published in the MJA today.

Win for GPs as Medicare-funded MRI scans for children begin

Win for GPs as Medicare-funded MRI scans for children begin

DOCTORS have welcomed new powers allowing GPs to directly refer children under 16 years of age for Medicare-funded MRI scans from today.

Pharmacists drafted by ML to help after hours

A MEDICARE Local has drafted in pharmacists to help with after hours care but reassured GPs the additional service would only extend within pharmacists’ existing skill sets and would not be a substitute for general practice.

Academics want acupuncture review

Academics want acupuncture review

SENIOR medical leaders have demanded Health Minister Tanya Plibersek order the chief medical officer (CMO) to expand a review of taxpayer-subsidised alternative medicines to include acupuncture, after the Department of Health ruled out the move.

Hep B screening policy launched

INADEQUATE rates of diagnosis and an increasing liver cancer burden have prompted the development of Australia’s first National Hepatitis B Testing Policy.

Billing just got easier with this time-saving phone app

LIKE all GPs Dr Jane Ramsey has more useful things to do with her time than spend it thumbing through the MBS searching for appropriate items to bill.

Contraception for young people

Contraception for young people

A contraception request is the second most common general practice presentation for females aged 14–17 years.

Physical health check call for severely mentally ill

GPs have backed a senior mental health campaigner who has called for MBS rebates for physical health checks for patients with severe mental illness.

Privacy Commissioner: know your e-health obligations

Privacy Commissioner: know your e-health obligations

GPs have been advised to get to know their obligations under the national e-health records system (NEHRS) so they can train staff, implement safe work practices and advise patients.

Physical health check call for severely mentally ill

GPs have backed a senior mental health campaigner who has called for MBS rebates for physical health checks for patients with severe mental illness.

Carbon tax kerfuffle ‘like Medicare’?: Blewett

THE former health minister who introduced Medicare in 1984 has compared its inception to the carbon tax and predicted that, like Medicare, opponents of the controversial environmental measure will ultimately embrace it.

Video campaign to lobby for "independent" PSR body

A campaign is soon to be launched calling for an overhaul of the PSR system and establishment of a new “independent professional body” to develop clinical protocols GPs can refer to when interpreting MBS item descriptors.

E-health 'bank-strength' secure, but online registration scrapped

E-health 'bank-strength' secure, but online registration scrapped

THE government has assured consumers the national e-health record system would feature “bank-strength” security, but grudgingly admitted online registration has been scrapped, as its e-health legislation passed the Senate last night.

Retrospective PSR legislation passed in parliament

Four NSW GPs who successfully challenged PSR orders to repay tens of thousands in Medicare claims now face the prospect of being referred back before the review, more than a decade after the original orders were made.

Govt labelled ‘hypocritical’ over new 80-20 breach laws for PSR

GPs who breach Medicare’s 80-20 rule will be automatically deemed to have practised inappropriately under new laws expected to be passed by parliament, and which will retrospectively validate a decade’s worth of committee findings.

Costly consults cut safety net

A GP who claimed $8000 from Medicare for a 20-minute consult is among the cases cited by the government for tightening the Extended Medicare Safety Net.

Budget 2012: Government tightening the belt in health

HEALTH has been front of stage in the past two budgets – this year things are different.

Circumcision may be cut from MBS

THE government will consider removing circumcision from the MBS as part of a planned review of paediatric surgery, in a move certain to be opposed by proponents who compare the ethics and practice of infant male circumcision to childhood vaccination.

Payment bungle may lead to rural doctor ‘avalanche’

THE bungling of incentive payments worth about $1.3 million will be the last straw for overworked country GPs, according to doctors’ groups preparing to blast the government at a Senate inquiry on Friday.

Blame game over rural docs’ $1 million payback

THE health department and Medicare are understood to have each blamed the other for a $1 million mistake that will force almost 300 GPs to repay thousands of dollars’ worth of incentive payments.

Bill to exempt dentists from PSR investigation

Bill to exempt dentists from PSR investigation

AN INQUIRY was due to have commenced this week into proposed legislation that would allow dentists to keep incorrectly billed Medicare payments and exempt them from investigation by the Professional Services Review.

AMA proposes PCEHR consult items and fees

AMA proposes PCEHR consult items and fees

GPs have been advised to charge each patient up to $210 when preparing a shared health summary for the government’s personally controlled e-health record (PCEHR) system, which will be rolled out from 1 July.

BEACH to investigate GPs' unpaid work

BEACH to investigate GPs' unpaid work

General practice research program Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health (BEACH) is for the first time gathering information on how much time GPs spend on patient care outside Medicare-rebatable consultations.

Insomnia? Call Medicare, and sleep while you wait

THE federal government’s public sector cost-cutting drive has been slammed after a survey found people were waiting so long on hold to speak to a Medicare or Centrelink call centre operator, they were falling asleep by the time their call got through.

Registration fees and bulk billing don’t mix: Medicare

MEDICARE has warned doctors that charging patients an annual fee to stay on the books while bulk billing is illegal, amid reports the practice of charging so-called ‘registration fees’ may be growing.

Proportion of GPs falling as students seek specialities

THE proportion of GPs in Australia’s healthcare system fell significantly during the decade to 2009, as general practice lost ground to the other specialties, according to a new report from Health Workforce Australia.

Battling insomnia? Call Medicare – the wait will put you to sleep

THE federal government’s public sector cost-cutting drive has been slammed after a survey found people were waiting so long on hold to speak to a Medicare or Centrelink call centre operator, they were falling asleep by the time their call got through.

Navigating the MBS now easier as service unveiled

GPs concerned about attracting the ire of Medicare and the PSR by incorrectly interpreting MBS item descriptors will be able to rely on a recently unveiled advice service.

Govt called on to support specialist bulk billing

MEDICARE incentives for non-GP specialists to bulk bill is essential to improve access for disadvantaged Australians, a senior general practice academic has argued.

Universal bulk billing plan to win back patients

PRIMARY Health Care is edging back toward universal bulk billing at its bigger medical centres to win back business from the growing number of people who put off visiting their GP because of the cost.

Exposing Medicare rorts

After six years as PSR director, Dr Tony Webber remains determined to eradicate Medicare abuse.

Govt free to appeal PSR court decision

Govt free to appeal PSR court decision

THE High Court has granted leave for the government to appeal last year’s Federal Court decision that invalidated PSR findings against four GPs.

Doctors dispute Medicare misuse

GPs, ophthalmologists and obstetricians have reacted angrily to being made examples of in an article by former Professional Services Review (PSR) director Dr Tony Webber, who claimed the Australian health system is leaking up to $3 billion annually.

Medicare misuse rampant

Medicare misuse rampant: Webber

FORMER PSR director Dr Tony Webber has claimed he was gagged by the health department when he raised concerns that hospitals were “cost-shifting” by pressuring GPs to order preoperative tests through Medicare.

Provide nurse details or miss out on payments

Provide nurse details or miss out on payments

Medicare is urging general practices to provide details of how they employ practice nurses by the middle of the year to avoid missing out on “top-up” payments for lost income under the new block payment scheme for practice nurses.

Roxon torpedoes $5b dental plan

JUST days after the Greens relaunched their much-vaunted $5 billion a year universal dental scheme, Health Minister Nicola Roxon has effectively shot it down.

Psychologists appeal to ACCC over two-tier Medicare rebate system

PSYCHOLOGISTS angry over the two-tier Medicare rebate system that provides higher rebates for clinical psychologists have taken their grievance to the ACCC after a Senate report recommended maintaining the current system.

Bulk-billing rates fall for September quarter

GP BULK-BILLING rates have fallen slightly overall for the September quarter compared with the June quarter this year, the latest Medicare data released by the government has revealed.

GPs urged to promote generics

GPs have been urged to promote generic medicines after a report said Australians now pay $1 billion a year in primary healthcare out-of-pocket charges and a quarter are choosing not to fill prescriptions because of the cost. The Australia Institute paper also called for prescription software that defaults to active ingredients rather than brand names, automation of the Medicare safety net, and mandated government-supplied referral forms with estimated costs of treatment and different provider options. The research, based on a survey of 1411 Australians and available Medicare data, said Australians – ...

Senate flags new powers for PSR

FORMER Professional Services Review (PSR) director Dr Tony Webber has welcomed a recommendation that the review be given the powers to “effectively pursue” corporate abuse of the MBS or PBS system so contracted GPs are not left “carrying the can”. The recommendation was one of seven contained in a Senate Community Affairs References Committee inquiry report into the PSR released today. The report comes as the government continues its efforts to challenge a Federal Court decision earlier this year that found a number of PSR rulings to be invalid. The ...

GPs ‘victimised’ by PSR, Senate told

DOCTORS feel they are being victimised by Medicare and the PSR process, which fails to take account of the complexities of general practice, a Senate inquiry has been told. The claims were made in submissions to the inquiry into the operations of the PSR from medical indemnity organisations Avant, MDA National and the Medical Indemnity Protection Society (MIPS). All raised concerns that GPs felt singled out by the PSR process and have called on the government to overhaul MBS compliance measures. MIPS, in its submission, said many GPs continued to hold a view that the “Medicare ...

Doctors line up to challenge PSR findings

LAWYERS involved in a Federal Court win over the Professional Services Review (PSR) have been swamped with calls from GPs forced to pay back money to Medicare as the blame game continues over the bureaucratic failure that could invalidate a decade of committee findings.

GPs initiate Senate inquiry into PSR

A GROUP of GPs dissatisfied with their treatment at the hands of the Professional Services Review (PSR) have succeeded in their quest to initiate a parliamentary inquiry into its operation and outcomes. WA Coalition Senator Chris Back successfully moved yesterday to refer the matter to the Community Affairs References Committee, which will hold a wide-ranging inquiry and report back by 22 September. The news came as the PSR prepared to release a guide for practitioners called before a committee or selected for a Medicare review. The PSR has faced significant criticism since it was revealed last ...

Simplifying the MBS puzzle

GP registrars often struggle with the MBS, but taking advice as gospel could lead to problems.

Prescribing changes needed to meet e-health deadlines

AXE paper prescriptions from July next year: that is the call on Government from the head of one of Australia’s leading electronic prescribing service operators. Speaking at the 8th Annual Future of the PBS conference in Sydney last week, MediSecure CEO Phillip Shepherd said if the Government was serious about meeting its 1 July 2012 deadline for the introduction of a personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR) it must get e-prescriptions working first. Mr Shepherd told MO decisive action was needed to encourage the adoption of e-prescriptions by making them the only means by which a patient ...

Dental scheme to end when Govt can pass legislation

THE Government has reaffirmed its commitment to scrapping the Chronic Disease Dental Scheme as soon as it can muster the numbers to pass the required legislation. A spokesman for Health Minister Nicola Roxon said the Chronic Disease Dental Scheme would continue, even though the Government viewed it as a waste of money, with the Coalition having opposed Government efforts in Parliament to abolish the program. The Government announced in March that Medicare had a list of 50 GPs who would be audited based on their use of the scheme, along with a crackdown on dentists, with Human ...

Retired non-VR GP hopes to restart career

A NSW GP who quit full-time practice in frustration two years ago after she was denied access to VR MBS rebates says she may finally receive justice and a chance to restart her career. Non-VR GP Dr Karen Counter said she quit her job in 2009 after Medicare denied her ongoing access to A1 rebates despite her belief she had fulfilled the necessary requirements of a rural service scheme that would have let her retain them. With the two-tier vocational register system set to be overhauled by the Federal Department of Health this year, Dr Counter told ...

Patient privacy concerns over ‘disturbing’ new laws

MEDICARE has been granted Commonwealth powers to force GPs to hand over patient records, prompting concerns that non-medical bureaucrats will be able to lawfully inspect confidential personal information. Legislation passed by Federal Parliament last week, backed by both major parties, will increase Medicare compliance audits fivefold and will force doctors to produce requested documentation – including patient notes – when suspected of inappropriate claims. Previously, doctors have not been legally obliged to provide documents, and one in five has refused when audited, the Federal Government claims. Under the new laws, however, doctors face hefty fines for refusing ...

Medicare sets sights on GPs over dental scheme

GPs are set to come under additional scrutiny from Medicare with those who have referred patients to the Chronic Disease Dental Scheme now in the spotlight after investigations found 59% of dentists audited over their use of the scheme had bent the rules. The findings prompted Human Services Minister Tanya Plibersek to announce the investigations would be dramatically expanded to another 400 dentists and the GPs who made the referrals. The latest crackdown follows the recent announcement that Medicare was to begin targeting GP prescribing of narcotics after the Minister cited a significant rise in the levels ...

E-health evaluation plan: Govt priorities questioned

After ongoing criticism of its slow progress on the rollout of the personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR), the Federal Government has now come under fire for “jumping the gun” with a tender process to find an independent evaluator for the project. The criticism is the latest blow to the $467 million project, with Medicare recently forced to revise Individual Healthcare Identifier contracts with medical software providers after they were deemed unworkable. Despite Health Department claims that an evaluation framework was crucial during the program’s development, Health IT consultant Dr David More questioned the logic behind commencing ...

PSR panel suspended over error in selection process

MEDICARE watchdog the Professional Services Review (PSR) has suspended all operations of its peer review committees following revelations of irregularities in the appointment of panel members. A spokesperson for the PSR has confirmed that 40 matters before the PSR had been deferred after every panellist – understood to be almost 100 – was asked to resign and apply for reappointment.  The move follows news that the Department of Health had failed to seek the necessary AMA approval for the appointment of an unknown number of panellists, as required by the legislation governing the PSR’s operations.  “The ...

Medicare clamps down on fraudulent claims

GP CARE plans will continue to be targeted by Medicare’s National Compliance Program with its latest report revealing the key focus areas for monitoring in the coming year. According to the report, GP care plans, compliance with Practice Incentive Program (PIP) incentive payments, bulk billing incentive payments, and the monitoring of up-coding of procedural items are to be targeted by Medicare in the coming year. Ordering of diagnostic imaging and pathology tests are also to come under greater scrutiny following the PSR’s recent warning in its annual report of doctors inappropriately using tests for screening purposes. ...

PSR panellists to resign over suspect selection process

MEDICARE watchdog the Professional Services Review (PSR) has been forced to seek the resignation of all of its medical practitioner panellists following revelations regarding irregularities in their appointments. AMA vice-president Dr Steve Hambleton has confirmed that many pending cases before the PSR had been put on hold after every panellist was asked to resign and reapply for their position. However, he questioned News Limited reports indicating the PSR’s work had been “suspended”. The move follows revelations that the Department of Health had failed to seek the necessary AMA approval for the appointment of an unknown number of ...

‘Shamefully low’ uptake for Aboriginal health checks

THE uptake of Aboriginal health checks has been “shamefully low” according to a new report, with fewer than 12% of the eligible population receiving their check-up. Just 47,000 Indigenous Australians received a preventive health check in 2009-2010, despite more than 400,000 being eligible. Menzies Centre for Health Policy foundation fellow Dr Lesley Russell, who conducted the research, said the policy introduced by the Howard government in 1999 for Indigenous preventive health checks had failed and was in need of urgent review. With rebates of $175-$200 available through the MBS for carrying out the checks, Dr Russel ...

Rise in vitamin testing prompts Govt suggestion to curb access

A GOVERNMENT proposal to restrict the ordering of tests for certain vitamin levels has met with opposition from doctors, who warn such a move could prove a risk to patient health. The Australian Association of Pathology Practices (AAPP) fears that requests for vitamin D, B12, iron and folate tests have been earmarked for cost-cutting under the ongoing Medical Benefits Reviews Task Group, which has been charged with finding economies within the MBS.  At recent meetings of the Pathology Review Consultation Committee, which reports to the task group, the Federal Health Department flagged a sharp rise in vitamin ...

Labor promise: Medicare rebates for online consults

LABOR has promised to establish Medicare rebates for online consultations if returned to government this weekend, with an announcement today it will allocate $250.5 million over the next four years. The new funding would be shared “across a range of specialties”, according to a Labor statement, along with an additional $56.8 million in financial incentives that would be available to GPs and specialists who participated in delivering online services. The latest election promise, which Labor estimated would provide about 495,000 additional services to Australians in remote, rural and outer metropolitan areas, has been welcomed by GP groups. ...

Legal liability of health identifiers unclear

A STALEMATE has emerged between Medicare and software vendors over who will be held liable for errors within the healthcare identifiers (HI) service.  The Medical Software Industry Association has advised members not to sign the HI developer agreement proposed by Medicare, arguing that it may leave vendors or their GP clients liable for errors. Their refusal to sign up is set to further slow the HI rollout.  “The biggest sticking point is where the liability lies,” said MSIA president Dr Geoffrey Sayer (PhD). “If vendors implement software with the HI service and Medicare does something to affect ...

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Gender divide: female GPs earn 25% less

NEW research revealing that female GPs earn 25% less than their male equivalents has again sparked debate over how the MBS remunerates doctors for their time.  The research, based on an analysis of data collected as part of the Medicine in Australia: Balancing Employment and Life (MABEL) survey, showed that the gender pay gap in general practice was even greater than the 20.7% gap that existed in the general population. Researchers compared the pay packets of more than 2000 GPs and found the gap existed even when data was adjusted to consider number of hours worked. ...

Streamlined authority medicine list to grow by 50

AN extra 50 PBS medicines are to be added to the streamlined authority list, under new measures announced today by the Gillard Government. Health Minister Nicola Roxon has announced that criteria for “authority required” medicines will be expanded, meaning doctors will no longer have to seek telephone or written approval from Medicare before prescribing a particular PBS medication. Medicines used to manage short-term conditions are expected to be on the list. The number of streamlined authority medicines is likely to increase from 110 to 160. The changes meant GPs would be able to spend more time ...

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AMA bypasses Govt and sets PoCT fees

THE AMA has upped the ante in the long-running push to introduce point-of-care testing (PoCT) into general practice. With the Federal Health Department still delaying any formal decision, the AMA has introduced four PoCT items onto its recommended list of medical services and fees and is now encouraging GPs to bill the items privately. Dr Brian Morton, chair of the AMA council of general practice, said the benefits of PoCT were clear and GPs shouldn’t be bound by the need for a rebate. “We decided PoCT wasn’t going anywhere... there were all sorts of delays and ...

Election speculation casts cloud over future of health reforms

WITH speculation rife that Prime Minister Julia Gillard will call a snap federal election, questions still hang over key planks of the Federal Government’s health reforms. While the landmark Council of Australian Governments deal struck early this year will see new monies flow to health services around the country, a sudden election could see key pieces of health reform legislation delayed.  The National Health and Hospitals Network Bill – which includes provisions for the controversial diabetes scheme – remains before the House of Representatives. While it is expected to pass through the Lower House, an easy passage ...

‘Unworkable’ health identifier deal creates e-health setback

‘Unworkable’ health identifier deal creates e-health setback

THE rollout of a national e-health system has been stalled again, after it was revealed last week that just three medical software companies had signed on to deliver Individual Healthcare Identifiers. According to Medical Soft-ware Industry Association  president Dr Geoffrey Sayer (PhD), the stark lack of interest was due to an unworkable developers agreement. The agreement was drafted by Medicare – which will operate the health identifiers service – but failed to detail full specifications that would be required of software companies. It also permitted Medicare to make changes to specifications at any point. “I was ...

Medicare survey finds audits have their upside

GPs fed up with ongoing ambiguities in the MBS can take heart from a recent Medicare survey showing strong health professional satisfaction with its audit processes. A recent Medicare survey of almost 200 health professionals who had undergone compliance audits has found that 93% agreed or strongly agreed they were treated in a professional manner.  More than three-quarters found the information provided during the process to be helpful to them in correctly interpreting the MBS. Queensland GP Dr Scott Masters isn’t one of them. His recent attempts to secure a definitive description of a Level C consultation saw ...

Pathology probe set to scrutinise GP business dealings

PRACTICE owners could find their business structures and rental arrangements under a new level of scrutiny, as more details emerge about the scope of Medicare’s investigation into pathology kickbacks. The investigation was  recently announced by Human Services Minister Chris Bowen, however more details have since come to light about how it will work. A Medicare Australia spokesperson said the spotlight would fall on practices whose commercial arrangements “encourage unnecessary requests to pathology providers”. “Examples are company structures designed to create payments and incentives to requesting providers through distribution of profits, [and] lease arrangements set outside proper market ...

Diabetes discussions vital for GPs and dietitians

BETTER and more timely communication and data sharing between dietitians and GPs is needed to improve the overall management of diabetes, according to new research. The study, based on questionnaires completed by 356 dietitians assessing Medicare’s existing Chronic Disease Management (CDM) program, also found that the limit on the number of services funded under the scheme was a major barrier to better care. Study author Dr Robyn Cant (PhD), research fellow at the Monash University school of nursing and midwifery, found the limited weekly hours worked by private practising dietitians and a reliance on paper-based communication with ...

Govt taskforce targets pathology kickbacks

A NEW investigation into kickbacks and collusion between pathology providers and healthcare professionals has sparked fresh concerns among doctors. Last Thursday, Human Services Minister Chris Bowen announced that a Medicare Australia taskforce had been established to look at inducements offered to healthcare professionals in exchange for pathology referrals. “Medicare Australia intelligence indicates a small minority of providers may be offering health professionals benefits such as free or discounted rent, shares or cash payments to encourage requests for their services,” Mr Bowen said. “The Government will not tolerate this prohibited practice, which may result in patients undergoing ...

GP bulk-billing rates flatten out

GP bulk-billing rates have plateaued at 79.6% in the first quarter of 2010, unchanged from the final quarter of 2009. This comes against a backdrop of a 0.6 of a percentage point rise in bulk billing for all types of medical services, including GP services. In the March quarter 2010, a total of $3.7 billion was paid in Medicare benefits for 73.9 million services, representing a rate of 3.3 services and about $165 in benefits for each Australian. Compared to the same quarter in 2009 bulk-billed non-referred GP attendances rose by 0.2% overall. NSW remained ...

Easyclaim uptake climbs despite end of incentives

PRACTICES continue to take on the Medicare Easyclaim system despite cessation of the incentives paid to practices to use it. Under a transitional support package, practices were being offered up to $1000 to install the system and 18 cents for each Medicare claim processed via Easyclaim.  The incentives ended on 31 December, but the number of claims being processed via Easyclaim has continued to climb. During March 2010, 8490 healthcare providers transmitted a patient claim via Medicare Easyclaim compared with 7684 providers in December 2009. James Bishop, practice manager at the Longevity Medical Centre in Victoria, ...

Medicare glitch affects thousands of records

MEDICARE has come under fire from a Queensland Senator for attempting to “downplay” a system error that could have affected up to 22,000 patient records.  The accusations come after it emerged that a glitch in Medicare’s online patient verification system potentially caused patient records at 2700 GP practices to be incorrectly updated. Test results, it has been revealed, may not have been matched to the correct patient record. Medicare is writing to practices potentially affected. A Medicare spokesperson said most practices would not have to check more than five patient records, however a small number might have ...

Division blasts Govt over new super clinic

The Federal Government has again come under fire for its controversial GP super clinics initiative, after the announcement of the winning bid for the $10 million Wanneroo super clinic.  Following direct negotiation with the Government, Perth’s Edith Cowan University will be charged with establishing the super clinic. But the local division says it will not improve access to GP services. The university does not have a medical school, but offers courses for nurses and nurse practitioners. Osborne GP Network chair Professor Alistair Vickery said the agreement would see Government-backed clinics set up in competition to local ...

GPs plan civil disobedience in protest over MBS confusion

GPs plan civil disobedience in protest over MBS confusion

GROWING discontent over a lack of transparency in the Medicare and Professional Services Review systems has led a group of GPs to take unprecedented measures to highlight their concerns. GPs participating in a national Internet mailgroup community have signalled their intent to decrease their bulk-billing rates and, in some cases, to stop assigning MBS item numbers to their consultations. The move comes after members’ continued frustration over  securing a definitive description of a Level C consultation, that they could be assured would be accepted by both Medicare and the PSR ( MO , 2 April).  Recent ...

Spotting a doctor shopper

Can you identify a doctor shopper? And what are your obligations when it comes to prescribing drugs of addiction? Caroline Brettingham-Moore asks the experts.

Spotting a doctor shopper

Can you identify a doctor shopper? And what are your obligations when it comes to prescribing drugs of addiction? Caroline Brettingham-Moore asks the experts.

Confusion rules in murky world of long consult claiming

Government efforts to clarify Level C and D item descriptors appear to have failed according to an MO poll, with less than a third of GPs saying they felt adequately informed of MBS changes due to take effect on 1 May. Half of the 150 GPs surveyed by Cegedim Strategic Data on behalf of Medical Observer said they did not feel they had been given enough information or time to consider how the new descriptors for C and D items will impact on their practice. The results reflect ongoing confusion among GPs over claiming ...

Fears registration will be limited to one-day deadline

MEDICAL defence organisations have voiced fears that doctors may have just 24 hours to register with the new national medical board when it begins taking registrations on 30 September. As part of the national registration and accreditation scheme, doctors will need to register with the new Medical Board of Australia. But while the board will give doctors a 28-day grace period before considering them unregistered, Medicare has not yet agreed to such an extension. According to Avant legal manager Helen Turnbull, Medicare might consider doctors unregistered the day after, leaving them unable to access the MBS.  ...

Failure of authority phone line puts patients’ care on hold

Failure of authority phone line puts patients’ care on hold

GPs were last week hamstrung in their efforts to care for patients, after the Medicare authority prescription line shut down for nearly three days. Doctors attempting to access the line say they were met with delays of up to five minutes only to be advised the service was down and to call back later. Sydney GP and Doctors Action president Dr Adrian Sheen, who tried repeatedly to access the hotline, said he was forced to ask a patient to return the next day to collect a prescription. “I had to tell the patient it will either ...

Tables turn as GPs get to audit Medicare

IN a rare role reversal, GPs who have undergone a Medicare audit will soon have the opportunity to provide an honest opinion on the “fairness and professionalism” of the organisation’s personnel and procedures. Beginning this month, Medicare will mail out a compliance activity survey to a sample of health professionals who have recently come under scrutiny. Findings from the survey – which can be completed anonymously – will be used to inform the training and development of compliance officers, and the continual improvement of auditing processes. However, in a move that has drawn criticism from the profession, ...

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