” The Medicare rebate freeze, which has been in place since 2010, had become a barrier to reform between the health sector and the Coalition.
It really does represent a major issue and I think it would be a fabulous sign of good faith with any new minister if they were able to move on that measure,”
Australian Medical Association president Dr Michael Gannon Speaking to Sarah Martin at The Australian
Doctors are calling for the country’s incoming health minister to reset the government’s relationship with the sector by ending a controversial freeze on Medicare payments.
With Malcolm Turnbull expected to announce a new health minister either today or tomorrow, doctor groups say lifting the freeze would restore faith with the sector and ease the path for future reform.”
The Prime Minister is considering a limited reshuffle, with Cabinet Secretary Arthur Sinodinos or Industry Minister Greg Hunt most likely to take on the portfolio.
Australian Medical Association president Michael Gannon said whoever took on the politically sensitive portfolio needed to implement reforms once reviews established by former minister Sussan Ley were completed, including one examining payments made under the Medicare Benefit Schedule.
“I am sure if the government lifted the freeze next week then they would be less likely to have the College of GPs complaining about other elements of government policy.”
President of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Bastian Seidel said the organisation wanted to see the government adopt evidence-based policy that would endure regardless of who held the portfolio.
Dr Seidel said the RACGP would be calling for an immediate end to the freeze on Medicare rebates for doctors, saying it would make a “significant difference” to patients.
“The top priority for the RACGP and our members and our patients is to lift the Medicare rebate freeze for general practice,” Dr Seidel said.
He said ending the freeze on payments to doctors would cost $150 million a year, and called for a reprieve over the next two years while a review of the MBS was completed.
Mr Turnbull is understood to be considering whether he reduces the size of cabinet from 23 to 22 ministers, while increasing the outer ministry from seven to eight to maintain the ministry at its current level of 30.
Doing so would likely see the elevation of an assistant minister to the outer ministry, with conservative NSW MP Angus Taylor a frontrunner.