The Coalition Government’s steadfast commitment to Medicare has been underlined by a record GP bulk billing rate of 87.5 per cent for 2019–20.
The bulk billing rate in New England was 78.4 per cent, meaning on average nearly eight out of 10 visits to the GP were provided with no out-of-pocket cost.
“This is just another example of the Government’s commitment to Medicare and bulk billing in New England and across regional Australia,” Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce said.
In total, Medicare services increased to 428.3 million with total benefits reaching $24.7 billion.
To ensure Australians have access to the healthcare services they need through the COVID-19 pandemic, temporary Medicare telehealth services have been introduced and widely taken up by the community.
In the period from 13 March to 30 June 2020 there were 16 million COVID-19 phone consultations to GPs, specialists and allied health professionals and 1.4 million COVID-19 video consultations to GPs, specialists and allied health professionals.
For the 2019–20 financial year, temporary telehealth items represented 8.8 per cent of GP consultations and 4.1 per cent of all Medicare services.
Mr Joyce said the temporary telehealth items have played a critical role in the Government’s response to COVID-19.
“These measures have allowed patients in the New England to access essential health care while minimising the risk of community transmission of the virus,” Mr Joyce said.
Bulk billing incentive payments have been temporarily doubled to support sustainable practice, while the types of services eligible for the incentive payments have been expanded.
Minister for Health, Greg Hunt said the Government had also required telehealth services to vulnerable Australians to be bulk billed.
“These measures have reduced the barriers to timely health care for thousands of Australians,” Minister Hunt said.
“Our rapid response to the COVID-19 pandemic has meant better protection for patients and healthcare providers and ensured continuity of access to affordable care.”