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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 12 Hansard (13 November) . . Page.. 3589..


Ms MacDONALD (continuing):

In closing, I would like to say that this has been a great effort. A large number of students participated and I wish them all well for the future. As well, I wish Virginia Lette and all of the other people involved with Young Achievement Australia a productive and successful future and hopefully all of their businesses break even, or even make a profit.

I might say that the year I participated in the program I was very relieved to report at the final meeting that our business, Insight Ya, was a blue chip company, and at the end of the day when we successfully liquidated our company we were able to give all of our shareholders a profit. I commend the motion to the Assembly.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

General practitioners-bulk-billing

MS TUCKER (8.38): I move:

That this Assembly, noting:

(1) recent decisions of General Practitioners practices to cease providing bulk billing services;

(2) that this change has reduced the health system's capacity for early intervention in health problems, and seriously reduced access for low income people and families in particular; and

(3) noting the reluctance of the current Federal Government to increase Medicare rebate payments to General Practitioners.

Calls on the Government to urgently develop a strategy:

(4) to ensure that every person in the ACT, regardless of income, has adequate access to the services of a General Practitioner, during and after business hours;

(5) including consideration of mechanisms to encourage and support General Practitioners to provide bulk billing; and

(6) to report to the Assembly with the strategy and an implementation plan by the end of the December 2002 sittings of the Assembly.

The government will be moving an amendment to this motion that I will be supporting.

This motion calls for urgent action to deal with two related health care problems in our community-a shortage of GPs, and a shortage of GPs able to afford to bulk bill. The fundamental problem is that we are not able to be sure that ACT residents, particularly those on a low income, are able to access general practitioner services.

The rates of bulk-billing in the ACT have dropped, even from our low position relative to the rest of Australia in 2000-01. This has caused a lot of concern in the community.

The Interchange General Practice had to make the hard decision in May. Many of the practice's clients were disadvantaged, and the practice was bulk-billing 70 per cent of consultations. The Medicare rebate was not enough to cover their costs. Clearly this system is not working. Over the course of this year, we have heard of other practices making that same hard decision. The statistics also bear this out. These are not just isolated instances attracting attention.


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