Doctors fear rebate cut to kill bulk-billing

CHARGING SOON: Patients could soon be charged a $5 fee to see a bulk-billing doctor.
CHARGING SOON: Patients could soon be charged a $5 fee to see a bulk-billing doctor. Thinkstock

TWEED medical clinics believe changes to Medicare rebates, which were passed in Federal Parliament just before Christmas, will hurt doctors' and patients' hip pockets, and could spell the death of bulk-billing.

$20 Medicare slug axed by federal government

From next Monday, the Medicare rebate for consultations under 10 minutes will be cut by more than $20, from $37.05 to $16.95.

Tweed Health For Every-one Superclinic executive officer Rick McKee said the change was made without any consultation.

He said while the Federal Government wanted to move away from "six-minute medicine", short consultations were often enough for patients who had been seeing the same doctor for years.

Mr McKee said it could mean the end of bulk-billing, even for pensioners and health care card holders.

"They may have to pay," he said.

Healthwise Medical Centre owner Shayne Holzheimer said the rebate cut would make it impossible to continue offering quality services while bulk-billing.

Australian Medical Association president Dr Brian Owler said many doctors were angry about the changes. "We've had a lot of feedback from the GPs about their unhappiness over the proposed changes," Dr Owler said.

Topics:  bulk billing health medicare

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