What does the Coalition victory mean for general practice?

Doug Hendrie

20/05/2019 3:45:54 PM

newsGP examines the likely effects of the election result.

Scott Morrison
Re-elected Prime Minister Scott Morrison. (Image: Lukas Coch)

RACGP President Dr Harry Nespolon has congratulated the Coalition on its victory.
‘We look forward to continuing to work with the Minister for Health, once reaffirmed or announced, to deliver the best care possible to Australians,’ he said.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt made a number of key promises in April’s Federal Budget and during the campaign.
newsGP sums up their likely effects and how they have been received.
Chronic disease
A new $448.5 million chronic disease funding model is aimed at Australians aged over 70 with chronic conditions, using voluntary enrolment.
RACGP response
While supportive in principle, the RACGP has called for the funding to be rolled out more broadly. The funding does not currently appear to be sufficient to ensure the full benefits of a patient enrolment model.
Rural health
More than $62 million is designed to bring in the National Rural Generalist Pathway.
RACGP response
The college supports the rural generalist push and will launch its own rural generalist component next year.
Aged care
The Government announced in the budget that the Aged Care Access Initiative, worth an estimated $25 million, would be retained.
Older patients will be able to consult GPs via phone, email or text message in a telehealth model.
RACGP response
The 2019 Federal Election statement called on an incoming government to modernise medicine by allowing patients to access GP care through telehealth measures, such as videoconference, phone and email.
The RACGP supports the decision to retain the Aged Care Access Initiative, which came after ongoing advocacy by the college.
The Government pledged to lift the Medicare rebate freeze on all remaining GP services before the end of the year, at a cost of $187 million.
RACGP response
The RACGP supports the early indexation of GP items, but notes that around $1 billion has been removed from general practice over the course of the freeze.
Practice Incentives Program
The Government promised more than $200 million over five years for the Practice Incentive Program Quality Incentive (PIP-QI).
RACGP response
The RACGP supports the PIP-QI, but has expressed concerns around the requirement to send de-identified data to Primary Health Networks.
Mental health
Almost $230 million over seven years has been set aside to improve mental health services in the community.
In addition, the Government announced $5 million for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide prevention and $5.5 million for communities affected by natural disasters. It also said it would considerably expand headspace mental health facilities.
RACGP response
The college has pointed out that mental health is the most common health issue managed by GPs and said there was a missed opportunity to fund the most efficient part of the health system.
What else can we expect from a returned Coalition Government?
During its last term, the Government approved Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) listing for every medication recommended by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC). This is expected to continue.

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GERRY MARKEZINIS   21/05/2019 8:22:14 AM

very little for primary care
Australia is the only advanced economy taking money out of primary care
the health system costs well rise and again GPs well get blame
futher fragmentation of health care continues

Dr Nicole Annette Kerr   21/05/2019 11:37:22 AM

The specialists continue to be overpaid, and the coalition is too weak to tackle this issue.

Dr Peter Robert Bradley   21/05/2019 1:25:59 PM

Sadly, Clive Palmer was right. If you keep doin' what you're doin', why expect a different result? - and that is exactly what we have allowed to happen for another three years.
I'm retired. I'm 'over' it, but deeply disappointed for the rest of you. Nothing new and innovative re our health system will occur - again!

Dr Maureen Anne Fitzsimon   21/05/2019 5:48:13 PM

This all makes me want to retire.

Dr David Zhi Qiang Yu   21/05/2019 10:29:33 PM

The excellent work from GP has been undervalued. The payment for the consultation between specialist and GP should be the same.

Dr Maureen Anne Fitzsimon   22/05/2019 8:18:54 PM

This all makes me want to retire.

Peter Bradley   25/05/2019 12:53:42 PM

Just do it Maureen. In reality no-one ever feels they are totally prepared for retirement. Ask me how I know. However, it seems to work out in the end. It is also true to say you've sweated blood under this antiquated and unfair system long enough, but it's unlikely to change any time soon, so just do it. Only then will your true contribution become revealed to others.
I bloody well did enter a valid security code..! Now it'll probably appear twice.