Government announces almost $100 million in new funding for GP aged care visits

Doug Hendrie

17/12/2018 3:08:28 PM

The funding is part of a $512 million commitment to primary healthcare within this week’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook 2018–19.

New funding will allow GPs to access a $55 Medicare payment to cover travel time and costs when visiting residential aged care facilities.
New funding will allow GPs to access a $55 Medicare payment to cover travel time and costs when visiting residential aged care facilities.

The Federal Government will provide $98 million over four years to support work in residential aged care facilities.

The funding will allow GPs to access a $55 Medicare payment to cover travel time and costs, addressing some of the longstanding barriers for residents in aged care facilities being able to choose who treats them.
The boost represents an effective increase of $7.60 per visit for GPs.
GPs have been increasingly turning away from visiting aged care facilities with more than a third of doctors surveyed last year planning to cut back or end their visits, with inadequate rebates and unpaid non-face-to-face time cited as two main reasons. 
The news has been welcomed by RACGP President Dr Harry Nespolon, who commended the Government for listening to the college’s concerns.
However, Dr Nespolon said the funding goes part – but not all – of the way to fix longstanding issues.
‘This funding is an important first step in addressing the concerns of the RACGP about the future of healthcare in residential aged care facilities,’ Dr Nespolon told newsGP.
‘The RACGP has been passionately advocating for a substantial Government commitment to ensure certainty for GPs and their patients living in aged care.
‘This new style of payment goes some way to acknowledging the time and commitment required by GPs to provide often very complex services in residential aged care facilities.’
Dr Nespolon said the wider $512 million commitment to primary healthcare is evidence the Government is moving in the right direction over making sure Australians will have accessible and affordable access to primary healthcare.
‘The RACGP will continue to advocate for additional funding and services to ensure that general practice is prepared for the future,’ he said.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said primary care is fundamental to Australia’s world-class healthcare system.
‘Strengthening primary healthcare is the Australian Government’s next wave of reform under the long-term national health plan,’ he said.
Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) breakdown
Under the investment in primary care, the Government has announced it will:

  • provide $98 million over four years from 2018–19 to increase MBS fees for GPs attending a residential aged care facility
  • provide $146.5 million over two years from 2019–20 to continue support for Primary Health Networks to provide locally tailored after-hours health services based on community need
  • provide $33.5 million over three years from 2019–20 to provide telehealth for general consultations for people in rural and remote areas (Modified Monash Model area 6–7) from 1 November 2019
  • extend the Health Care Homes trial for a further two years until 30 June 2021, and a new wound-management trial from 1 December 2019 to 30 June 2022 to test models of care for chronic wound management
  • provide $13.4 million over four years from 2018–19 to maintain the current MBS rebate for urgent after-hours services paid to non-vocationally registered medical practitioners working in metropolitan settings until 1 January 2020, and retain the current rebate in regional areas (classified in Modified Monash Model area 2)
  • improve medical and professional indemnity arrangements, including improved administration, simplifying eligibility and claims requirements for the Midwife Professional Indemnity Scheme, and for eligible privately practising health practitioners
  • provide $26.9 million over four years from 2018–19 for mental health and wellbeing support for farmers in hardship, including by telehealth in drought-affected communities
  • provide $110.7 million over four years from 2018–19 by adding new MBS items for the treatment and management of patients with severe eating disorders, from 1 November 2019
  • provide $58.9 million over four years from 2018–19 for new and amended MBS and Veterans’ Benefits items, to commence from 1 May 2019
  • provide $17.5 million over four years from 2018–19 to improve outcomes for Australians living with chronic disease
  • provide $5.8 million over four years from 2018–19 for a neurological nurse specialist pilot to improve access to specialised nursing care for people living with neurological conditions
  • provide $1 million over two years from 2018–19 to develop a National Mental Health Workforce Strategy.

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Dr Peter j Strickland   18/12/2018 11:26:41 AM

These Aged Care packages carry a lot of baggage. A close relative with a husband with Alzheimers waited months for approval of a package, and then discovered the firms doing the care have enormous "administration" fees, and charge in the region of $68/hr for their time, and irrespective of the duties performed. I had to unblock the drain of an elderly women who had a cleaner come in at that rate ($68/hr) who used tissues to clean the shower and let them go down the drain! In other words the whole package was consumed in no time, and often causes anxiety etc. about how long it will last, and who is benefitting --- I doubt it is those who need it, as the government give the money to the company doing the "caring', and not to those who need it. It is a mess from what I have seen and heard.

Jay Somasundaram   19/12/2018 11:01:30 AM

A shortage of GPs to attend aged care facilities is not due to poor payments. It's because many aged care facilities only want GPs who are willing to go along with patient care to the standard the facility is prepared to deliver.

John McCredie FRACGP DTM&H   19/12/2018 6:10:05 PM

All this is good news. However, I personally(at the age of 87) have been retired for twelve years. Thus, I may eventually become the recipient of this benefit!

Kenneth John McCredie   19/12/2018 6:14:50 PM

I have already sent my message under John McCredie