Federal Member for Blair Shayne Neumann
Federal Member for Blair Shayne Neumann

Calls for change to health care in Ipswich ignored

CALLS for the federal government to address out of pocket costs to see GPs, cuts to bulk billing incentive payments and changes to distribution priority area classifications have been ignored.

Member for Blair Shayne Neumann raised the issues in parliament last week, demanding answers.

He received a response from the Minister for Regional Health Mark Coulton on the matters, this week.

The rural classification system used to determine eligibility for rural Bulk Billing incentives changed from 1 January.

“The update ensures rural Bulk Billing incentives are targeted to practitioners working in regional, rural and remote areas, rather than in metropolitan areas and larger towns,” Mr Coulton said.

“The Government delayed the implementation of these changes from 1 July 2019 to 1 January 2020 to allow practices time to adjust their business models.”

The bulk billing rate for non-referred GP attendances in Blair in 201-19 was 93.5 per cent, up from 90.4 per cent in 2012-13.

“While the government is responsible for setting the MBS fees which determine the rebates available to patients, it has no authority to determine the amount a doctor charges for their services,” Mr Coulton said.

As for Ipswich’s status as a Distribution Priority Area, there will be no changes unless there is a reduction in health services to the community due to changing GP numbers or a change to the population, age, gender or socio-economic groupings.

This will be reviewed at the next scheduled data update in June.

Mr Neumann said he was disappointed with the government’s response.

“It’s one of bitter disappointment that the government has failed to listen to the local member and the voice of local doctors,” he said.

“Locally they’re not going to do anything in relation to this year, which means from our point of view, in the local area, until there is worse health outcomes, this government is not going to review the status that puts a real barrier in place for doctors coming to our region and GP practices employing them.”