Medicare Safety Net changes on hold: a win for patients

08 December, 2015

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has welcomed the Government’s pause of the Medicare Safety Net threshold change as a win for patients, who would have faced higher out-of-pocket costs under the proposal.

Health Minister Sussan Ley announced on 2 December 2015 that the Federal Government would hold its discussions on any changes to the Medicare Safety Net while the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) Review was being undertaken.

RACGP President Dr Frank R Jones said the announcement showed the Government had listened to the concerns of the RACGP, which centred on the Government's proposal to drop the maximum amount patients could claim per presentation to 150% of the scheduled fee (down from 300%). The measure would have resulted in more out-of-pocket costs to reach the safety net, and less coverage for out-of-pocket costs once the safety net was reached.

"The RACGP put forward a strong and compelling argument as to why the Government's proposal would not be of benefit to the general public and it is encouraging to see our concerns have been heard, the Minister is to be applauded for her actions," Dr Jones said.

"We support the Government's proposed new threshold amounts and we also support proposals to make the safety net more consistent, however, dropping the loading from 300% to 150% was not the answer."

Dr Jones urged the Government to use this pause as a chance to find a solution that works for patients.

"We look forward to working with the Government to further discuss how a change to the Medicare Safety Net can reduce inequalities and increase transparency while also protecting our most vulnerable patients," Dr Jones said.