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Financial boost for GPs to increase bulk billing

More GPs are expected to return to bulk billing vulnerable patients amid new financial incentives.

More GPs are expected to return to bulk billing vulnerable patients amid new financial incentives. Photo: Getty

GPs will be given a greater financial incentive to bulk-bill vulnerable patients under changes to Medicare.

The new financial rewards, which kick in from Wednesday, triples the incentives for the bulk billing of pensioners, concession card holders and children.

The move was previously announced in the federal budget as a response to falling bulk-billing rates.

Under the changes, GPs will be given a $20.65 bonus if they are in cities and an almost $40 bonus for regional areas.

Health Minister Mark Butler said the increases had been called for by doctors.

“It’s a huge boost in confidence and funding to a sector that I think is probably in its most parlous state it’s been in the 40-year history of Medicare,” he told ABC Radio on Wednesday.

“(Clinics) have said they’ll be returning to bulk billing or many of them who are considering a change would stick with bulk billing for those more than 11 million Australians (who bulk bill).”

The new incentives are expected to cost $3.5 billion across the next five years.

The health minister said the bulk-billing incentive was part of $6 billion in new measures for the sector, which included a boost to the Medicare rebate.

“We’re doing a range of things to boost the viability of general practice to make it easier for patients to see a doctor particularly free of charge,” Butler said.

– AAP

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