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JOINT PRESS RELEASE

THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MP, PRIME MINISTER
THE HON. PETER DUTTON MP, MINISTER FOR HEALTH
A STRONG AND SUSTAINABLE MEDICARE
The $7 Medicare co-payment measure announced in the 2014-15 Budget will no longer proceed.
The Government will instead implement a package of measures that will strengthen Medicare and help make
it sustainable, ensuring Australians will continue to have access to affordable, world-class health care.
The Government has listened to the views of the community.
This new package ensures the Government can make Medicare sustainable, improve the quality of care for
patients and continue its repair of the Budget.
The Medicare rebate paid to doctors for some consultations will be reduced by $5 and the troublesome issue
of ‘six minute medicine’ will be addressed by encouraging doctors to spend more time with patients.
Optional co-payment and protection for patients
A new optional co-payment will be introduced for GP services with additional protections for patients.
The Government will not impose a co-payment on GP services provided to pensioners, Commonwealth
concession card holders, all children under the age of 16, veterans funded through the Department of
Veterans’ Affairs, attendances at residential aged care facilities and pathology and diagnostic imaging
services.
Incentives paid to doctors to encourage them to bulk bill concession card holders and children under the age
of 16 will also remain.
Medicare rebates for common GP consultations will be reduced by $5 for non-concessional patients aged 16
and over from 1 July 2015.
Doctors may choose to recoup the $5 rebate reduction through an optional co-payment or continue to bulk
bill non-concessional patients over the age of 16.
Doctors will be under no obligation to charge the co-payment and this decision will be entirely at their
discretion.

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Improving patient outcomes by tackling ‘six minute medicine’
In a further move to streamline Medicare and improve quality outcomes, the Government will make changes
to standard GP consultation items which currently provide the same Medicare rebate for a six minute
consultation as for a 19 minute consultation.
This change will ensure that Medicare expenditure more accurately reflects the time a GP spends with a
patient.
It encourages a shift away from ‘six minute medicine’ so that appropriate, comprehensive care is better
rewarded over patient throughput.
Additionally Medicare fees for all services provided by GPs, medical specialists, allied health practitioners,
optometrists and others will remain at their current level until July 2018.
Making Medicare Sustainable and the Medical Research Future Fund
The Government is committed to taking these prudent measures to protect Medicare.
Medicare will not survive in the long term without changes to make it sustainable.
In the last decade spending on Medicare has more than doubled from $8 billion in 2004 to $20 billion today,
yet we raise only $10 billion from the Medicare levy. Spending is projected to climb to $34 billion in the
next decade to 2024.
In the last year alone, 275 million services were provided free to patients. That’s three out of every four
Medicare services being bulk billed.
These changes will contribute more than $3 billion to the Medical Research Future Fund which will fund the
research needed to find cures to the health problems of today.
In six years the returns from the MRFF will provide a billion dollars to be invested in medical research
annually – doubling our national funding commitments to researchers.

9 December 2014

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What it means for patients
How is the Co-Payment Changing?
The original Co-Payment measure announced in the 2014-15 Budget will no longer proceed. The
Government will implement a new optional Co-Payment, with additional protections for patients.
GP services provided to Pensioners, Commonwealth concession card holders, and children under 16
years, will be exempt from the rebate reduction and will continue to attract the current Medicare
rebate for eligible services. Services funded through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and
attendances at residential aged care facilities will also be exempt.
Importantly, the incentives the Government pays to doctors encouraging them to bulk-bill patients
will also remain.
Additionally, there will be no reduction to rebates for GP’s providing health assessments, GP mental
health plans, and GP Management Plan items.
For non-concessional patients, the MBS rebates for common GP consultations will be reduced by $5
from 1 July 2015, which doctors may choose to recoup from the patient through an optional copayment. Doctor’s will be under no obligation to charge the co-payment, and this decision will be
entirely at the discretion of the doctor.

How will these changes affect you?
If you are currently a Bulk Billed patient that has a concession card, or is under 16 years of age, the
Medicare rebate reduction, and optional co-payment will not affect you.
It is expected that you will continue to be bulk billed by your doctor, and your doctor will continue to
receive incentives between $6.15 and $9.25 for bulk-billing you.
If you are currently a Bulk Billed patient that does NOT have a concession card, the Medicare
Rebate paid for your GP visit will be reduced by $5. Some doctors may choose to continue bulkbilling you, or alternatively they may choose to recoup some or the entire fee from you through an
optional co-payment. This will be entirely at the discretion of your medical practitioner.
If you are a patient that is not currently bulk billed, the Medicare rebate you receive for your GP
visit will be reduced by $5.
Pathology tests, or a diagnostic imaging services will no longer be affected and the current rebates
and bulk-billing incentives will continue to apply. Consumers should not see any changes in costs for
these services.

Improving the Quality of Care you receive from your GP
The Government has also clarified the payment arrangements to GPs for short consultations. These
new arrangements will more accurately reflect the time a GP spends with their patients.
Consultations that last less than 10 minutes, which are usually straightforward in nature, will now
attract a lower rebate. A Standard GP consultation will now need to be between 10 minutes and 20
minutes with you. If you generally receive consultations with your GP longer than 10 minutes, you
will be unaffected by this change. It is expected that doctors will reflect any reduced rebates for
short consultations through their charges to patients.
These changes will help promote doctors spending more time with their patients. This will allow
doctors to spend more time treating your illness, focussing on preventive health and managing
chronic diseases, keeping you healthier in the process.

www.health.gov.au
All information in this document is current as at December 2014

How is the Co-Payment Changing
How has the Co-Payment Changed?
The original Co-Payment measure announced in the 2014-15 Budget will no longer proceed. The
Government will implement a new optional Co-Payment, with additional protections for patients.
GP services provided to Pensioners, Commonwealth concession card holders, Veterans (funded
through DVA), attendances at residential aged care facilities, and children under 16 years will now
be exempt from the rebate reduction, and will continue to attract the current Medicare rebate for
eligible services.
There will be no rebate reduction for:
 Concession card holders
 Children under 16 years of age
 Veterans for services funded through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs
 Attendances at residential aged care facilities
 Health assessments
 GP mental health plans
 GP management plans
Importantly, the incentives the Government pays to doctors encouraging them to bulk-bill patients
will also remain.
For non-concessional patients, the MBS rebates for common GP consultations will be reduced by $5
from 1 July 2015. Doctors may choose to recoup this amount from the patient through an optional
co-payment.
Doctor’s will be under no obligation to charge the co-payment, and this decision will be entirely at
the discretion of the doctor.
Additionally, the Government has moved to stop “six-minute” medicine by redefining the lengths of
common GP consultations. Currently, the MBS rebate paid to doctors is the same for a six minute GP
consultation as for a 19 minute consultation.
From 19 January 2015, GP’s that intend to charge for a standard GP consultation will now need to
spend at least 10 minutes with a patient to attract the standard (Level B) consultation rebate.

Why has the Government changed the Medicare Co-Payment?
We’ve listened to your comments on the GP Co-Payment, and believe that these changes achieve a
fair outcome for patients, for doctors, and for Medicare while protecting the vulnerable
The changes we’ve made provide protections for families and concession card holders, as well as
supporting the delivery of better care for all Australians.
Importantly, these changes will also help put Medicare on a sustainable path for the future.

We have the opportunity as a country to lay the foundations for a stronger and more efficient
healthcare system, ensuring that Medicare remains a pillar of our world class healthcare system for
decades to come.

What is happening to Diagnostic Imaging and Pathology Services?
This new measure will not apply to Diagnostic Imaging and Pathology services. The payment
arrangements currently in place for Diagnostic Imaging and Pathology services will continue.

When will these changes take effect?
The $5 reduction in the MBS rebates for non-concessional patients will take effect from 1 July 2015.

www.health.gov.au
All information in this document is current as at December 2014