January 19, 2015
Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester is inviting local GPs to share their ideas on how to protect Medicare and keep it sustainable for future generations.
Mr Chester welcomed the removal of the most controversial elements of proposed changes to Medicare on Thursday and said he was committed to standing up for regional medical practices.
The Gippsland MP said he had lobbied the Health Minister Sussan Ley on behalf of local GPs since proposed changes to rebates for consultations less than 10 minutes were announced in December.
Those changes were taken off the table by the Minister on Thursday and will not start on Monday January 19.
Mr Chester said he was listening to the concerns of local doctors and making sure the views of regional Australians were heard in Canberra.
“Over summer I’ve already met with 15 local GPs and I’ll continue to meet with doctors and health professionals, asking their advice on ways to keep Medicare sustainable for future generations,” Mr Chester said.
“I’m looking for practical, common sense ideas from people on the ground.
“If we all acknowledge there is a problem with Medicare spending being unsustainable in the longer term, then we need to work together to find solutions that ensure bulk-billing remains available to those who need it most.”
Mr Chester said he would write to Gippsland GPs seeking their advice on ways to find savings in health expenditure.
“It has been encouraging to see comments from the Australian Medical Association that it wants to work with government to protect vulnerable and concessional patients, while making Medicare more sustainable. However, it’s important we speak more with doctors about how this might work,” Mr Chester said.
“At the moment, taxpayers are spending $20 billion each year on Medicare, but we raise only $10 billion from the Medicare levy.
“With spending set to climb to $34 billion in the next 10 years, we’ve got to come up with ways to make sure Medicare doesn’t collapse under its own weight.”
Mr Chester said local GPs ran professional, efficient practices and they ensured Gippslanders received the best possible primary care.
“Local GPs provide an essential health service, but they are also small businesses providing employment and trying to make a profit,” he said.
“I want to work with them to make sure they remain prosperous and our Medicare system remains strong into the future.”
CAPTION: Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester has met with several local GPs recently, including Inglis St Medical Centre Sale doctors Bruce Johnston, Kristen Willson and David Monash.