Grievance Debate: Access to bulk billing GP's

Grievance Debate: Access to bulk billing GP's Main Image

Mrs PHILLIPS (Gilmore) (18:22) One issue close to the hearts of many people in my electorate of Gilmore are access to a bulk-billing GP and the cost of medicines. That's why I was thrilled to learn today that more GPs are bulk-billing patients in Gilmore as a direct result of the Albanese government's tripling of the bulk-billing incentive, with more than two million additional bulk-billed visits across the country since 1 November 2023. In the month before the bulk-billing incentive was tripled on 1 November 2023, 78.4 per cent of all GP visits were bulk-billed in Gilmore. Over the next seven months, the bulk billing rate increased by 5.7 percentage points to 84.1 per cent in May.



Gilmore residents have also saved $2,056,110 on the cost of their medicines, thanks to the Albanese government's cheaper medicines policies, including our landmark 60-day prescription reforms and the largest cut to the maximum patient co-payment in the 75-year history of the PBS. Almost 50,000 60-day scripts were filled in Gilmore to May 2024.

This week, the Albanese government also delivered the second-largest increase to Medicare rebates in 30 years, with $900 million in additional Medicare funding. This came on top of the $940 million delivered last year, in the largest increase in 30 years. This means that, in just two years, the Albanese government has increased Medicare rebates by twice as much as the former government did in their nine years in office. Seven months of official Medicare billing data shows that, after a decade of cuts and neglect from the Liberals, the slide in the GP bulk-billing rate has stopped, and bulk-billing rates continue to improve each month. Nationally the GP bulk-billing rate was 79 per cent in May, a rise of 3.4 per cent since the higher bulk-billing incentives came into effect on 1 November. Australians living in regional and rural areas like mine have seen the biggest increases, with an estimated additional 900,000 bulk-billed visits since the higher bulk-billing incentives came into effect. Thanks to the Albanese government there is more bulk-billing in Gilmore. Doctor's groups have called our tripling of the bulk-billing incentive a game changer, and clearly it is in Gilmore.

After a decade of cuts and neglect to Medicare by the Liberals, bulk-billing was in freefall. The pressure on general practice began when the opposition leader was health minister and tried to do away with bulk-billing, by introducing a fee on every single visit to the GP, and then he started a six-year freeze on Medicare rebates. The Albanese government committed to making it easier for people to see a bulk-billing doctor, and that is exactly what is happening right around the country, particularly in rural and regional Australia. This is a win all round for patients, doctors and the health system, and it is helping make Medicare stronger. People in Gilmore know that after a decade of cuts it was increasingly hard to find a bulk-billing doctor. Thanks to the Albanese government, there is more bulk-billing in our region, which is delivering significant cost-of-living relief for local people. Labor introduced Medicare, and only Labor can be trusted to strengthen and protect it.