Media Release: Health Minister Treating GP Patients Like Mugs

Today, we have seen Health Minister Mark Butler appear to reheat an old bulk billing announcement in attempt to hide the fact that Medicare is currently covering the least amount of GP fees on record.

The tricky announcement from the Albanese Labor Government today seems to indicate that there has actually been no change to the bulk billing rate in three months.

The Minister has quoted a 2.1% increase in the bulk billing rate, bringing it to 77.7% as at March this year. This is the exact same data he announced for December 2023, published in his media release dated 1 February 2024.

This strongly suggests that there has been no change to the GP bulk billing rate for the first quarter of this year, leaving bulk billing stuck at the lowest level in a decade.

Shadow Minister for Health, Senator Anne Ruston said the Minister is treating Australians like mugs, but they are on the ground experiencing the serious crisis in our primary care system.

“Recent data from the AIHW has confirmed that it has literally never been more expensive to see a doctor.

“The percentage of GP services paid for by Medicare has fallen to 84% under the Albanese Government, which is the lowest level on record. This means that Australians are paying the highest out-of-pocket fees in history.

“The Minister can try to trick us with misleading announcements all he wants, but Australians can feel the truth in their hip pockets,” Shadow Minister Ruston said.

We know that 1.2 million Australians avoided seeing a doctor last year due to cost concerns, and the costs have only grown since. This will have serious consequences for the entire healthcare system.

The Albanese Government must stop focusing on media headlines and start taking real action to increase the affordability of primary care, including by standing up to state Labor premiers on GP payroll taxes.


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