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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 23 February 2010) . . Page.. 485 ..


can to support doctors in this territory to provide a good level of care and, where it is needed, to provide bulk-billing services. I guess the flip side would be: what have you guys done? Nothing. As usual, nothing.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Doszpot, a supplementary question?

MR DOSZPOT: Minister, what is the government’s target bulk-billing rate?

MS GALLAGHER: Sorry, what was the question?

MR DOSZPOT: Minister, what is the government’s target bulk-billing rate?

Mr Stanhope: What’s yours? What’s the opposition’s?

Mr Doszpot: We’re asking the question, Jon.

MR SPEAKER: Order, members!

Mr Hanson: How about we’ll get to the national average.

Mr Stanhope: What’s the opposition’s target?

MR SPEAKER: Order, Mr Hanson and Mr Stanhope!

MS GALLAGHER: Mindful of the fact that New South Wales is 84 per cent, I believe, any improvement from where we are would be welcome. But I would certainly believe that somewhere around the national average would be welcome. Again, you have to look at the ACT; you have to look at the reasons why doctors are not bulk-billing all of their patients. I know for a fact that if general practitioners know that someone cannot afford to pay then they bulk-bill them. But GPs in this town also have a right to earn an income and, where they need to and where they know a patient can afford to pay, they charge them. That is not unusual in other business models that exist in the private sector.

However, I would like to see an improvement in the bulk-billing rate. I think the decline was due to the ceasing of Primary’s universal access to bulk-billing, and it was the first full quarter in which that decision came into effect. With respect to some of the measures we have put in place, particularly when we open the walk-in centre, that will not increase the bulk-billing rate; what it will mean is that for those people who genuinely struggle and need access to free out-of-hours care for less urgent conditions, they will have a place to go. If the model works, we would look to expand that out across the ACT.

MR SPEAKER: A supplementary, Mr Hanson?

MR HANSON: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Minister, can you confirm that your government’s position then with regard to bulk-billing is that there is nothing that you can do and there is nothing that you will do?


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