Revelations of widespread Medicare rorting worth up to $8 billion per year demonstrate the need for comprehensive reforms of the system which remunerates general practitioners.
One Nation leader Senator Pauline Hanson said doctors should be required to provide an itemised list of medical services to be charged and bulk-billed against Medicare for the patient to sign off.
“Instead of just running the patient’s Medicare card through the machine, doctors should be required to obtain the patient’s approval for any services that will be funded with their Medicare card,” Senator Hanson said. “This would cut down on a great deal of this rorting and over-servicing.
“Those who have been rorting the system in this way must be held to account, and so must the bureaucrats who process these bogus Medicare claims.
“General practitioners, the majority of whom do the right thing and are motivated by good patient outcomes rather than remuneration, also need much better support from a system which is underpaying and overworking them, driving doctors and medical graduates away from becoming GPs.
“We are constantly hearing the viability of general practice is threatened unless Medicare rebates are increased and new incentives are introduced to encourage doctors and graduates to become GPs, especially regional GPs. The current system discourages the lengthy consultations often required for patients with complex needs.
“We may very well need to revisit the idea of a GP co-payment. The levy and surcharge do not cover the almost $30 billion a year the government spends on Medicare – a figure which is only going rise further as the proportion of older Australians in our population grows.”
Senator Hanson said she was profoundly disturbed at the revelation that online courses on how to rort Medicare were being offered.
“These courses should be investigated by the Australian Federal Police immediately, and shut down,” she said. “Any doctors who took one of these courses should also be investigated. Deliberate over-servicing only delays appointments for people who really need to see a doctor, and waiting periods are too long already.”