The Morrison Government is committed to ensuring Australians living in regional, rural and remote areas can access high quality, timely and live-saving healthcare when and where they are needed.
Member for Barker Tony Pasin said the 2021-22 Federal Budget supports bold, new rural workforce and training measures designed to further deliver the Government’s ten-year Stronger Rural Health Strategy.
“Regional Australia is driving Australia’s economic recovery from COVID-19, and through our investment in the health portfolio in the 2021-22 Budget we continue to provide support to enable the regions and our local communities to prosper and grow,” Mr Pasin said.
“The recent federal budget was a health budget especially for the almost 8 million Australians who live and work in the regions. All Australians, regardless of where they live, should have access to high quality health care.” Mr Pasin said.
The Morrison Government continues to invest in the rural training pipeline and improve the financial viability of rural practise, helping grow the nation’s highly skilled and vital rural health workforce.
$65.8M TO BOOST BULK BILLING REBATES IN RURAL AND REMOTE AREAS
For the first time, the Morrison Government will implement a progressive incentive schedule, which increases bulk billing payments for doctors based on remoteness, at a cost of more than $65 million in the first four years.
More Australians than ever are getting the medical care they need at no cost to themselves, with almost nine out of 10 visits to the GP in the nine months to March 2021 provided with no out-of-pocket cost to the patient.
Mr Pasin said scaling the Rural Bulk Billing Incentive will better recognise that doctors in rural and remote areas face higher operating costs, smaller patient populations, increased complexity in patient care, and carry a greater burden of responsibility for the healthcare needs of people living in these communities.
“Our Government understands doctors face greater health complexities and challenges in rural and remote areas, which is why more than 12,000 GPs will be eligible for a higher bulk billing incentive,” Mr Pasin said.
“Enhancing the financial viability of GP practices in rural towns and remote areas is just one of the things governments need to do to ensure we are attracting doctors to where they are most needed.” Mr Pasin said.
The Morrison Government is also continuing the critical services regional Australians have relied on during COVID-19 with $204.6 million to extend telehealth measures.
Telehealth changes to Medicare introduced for the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to high bulk billing, while also reducing the risk of spreading the disease in the community.
In the nine months to March 2021, Medicare paid benefits for 2.5 million COVID-19 video consultations and 34.1 million COVID-19 phone consultations provided by GPs, specialists and allied health professionals.
In total, 30.2 million GP consultations were provided via phone and 630,394 million via video.
“Our Government’s commitment to Medicare and bulk billing remains rock solid. These figures show that we are supporting the health and wellbeing of Australians more than ever before.” Mr Pasin said.
$12.4M FOR THE NEW JOHN FLYNN PRE-VOCATIONAL DOCTOR TRAINING PROGRAM
More junior doctors will receive invaluable rural training experiences through the new $12.4 million John Flynn Prevocational Doctor Training Program.
“This is a much needed injection for rural training, which will deliver almost double the current number of rural primary care rotations, ensuring young doctors have more exposure to the opportunities available in rural practice,” Mr Pasin said.
$9.6M TO EXPAND THE ALLIED HEALTH RURAL GENERALIST PATHWAY
Mr Pasin said the Morrison Government continue to invest in training early career allied health professionals through a $9.6 million expansion of the successful Allied Health Rural Generalist Pathway, which more than doubles the number of training positions for allied health disciplines.
“Allied health plays an important role in primary care. It is why we are supporting allied health professionals to participate in patient management conferencing, to provide more team-based primary health care to people in the bush.” Mr Pasin said.
$29.5M TO INCREASE NON-GP MEDICAL SPECIALIST TRAINING IN AREAS FACING WORKFORCE SHORTAGES
“The Morrison Government are also supporting a similar approach for specialist training, by investing $29.5 million to trial new regional training models with the aim of keeping more specialists training in rural settings, rather than them needing to relocate to training hospitals in metropolitan areas.” Mr Pasin said.
“I understand the complex challenges faced by the rural health sector, such as recruiting GPs, nurses and allied health professionals to the bush, and can confirm the Morrison Government are committed to developing a range of programs and initiatives to combat this,” Mr Pasin said.