NSW GPs to be incentivised to bulk-bill in state first budget announcement

GP schemes will soon become cheaper in one state, in a first Australian move to encourage GPs to bulk bill.

The NSW State Budget on Tuesday announced a $189 million bulk billing support initiative that will give clinics an ongoing reduction in payroll taxes for contract GPs if the clinic meets a billing threshold in 80% block in metropolitan Sydney and 70% in regional and rural areas. areas.

The cut is expected to ensure GP practices do not pass on the costs of the payroll tax cut to patients, while reducing pressure on NSW emergency departments.

Data from NSW Health estimates that a 1% drop in bulk billing equates to around 3000 more emergency presentations.

The Government is due to introduce legislation to enact the reduction on Tuesday, which will also include an exemption from the past due duty of unpaid fees for entrepreneurial GPs, which will be extended until September 4 this year.

Previously, payroll tax policies included time-limited amnesties and moratoriums, with industry bodies concerned that historic tax arrears could lead to GP closures or increase the cost of GP appointments by up to $20 per appointment.

NSW Finance Minister Courtney Houssos said the policy would act “in line” with the federal government’s $1.5 billion policy to ensure GPs receive 34 per cent more for standard bulk-billed consultations, which entered into force at the end of 2023.

“We want to be able to support our physicians who provide bulk billing services,” she said.

“The Federal Labor Government’s previous budget increased the bulk billing reductions, but these only started to flow to doctors last November and we expect that over time they will continue to have an effect and we hope to see increases in bulk- billing.”

Tuesday’s announcement was supported by the Australian Medical Association (AMA) and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP).

“AMA NSW welcomes the NSW Minns Government’s decision to legislate to guarantee no retroactive payroll tax liability for general practices,” Michael Bonning said.

“The ‘no retrospection’ legislation will provide certainty for practices and minimize the risk of more general practice closures in NSW.

“Unfortunately, general practice continues to struggle with decades of underfunding from the previous coalition government.”

RACGP NSW & ACT president Rebekah Hoffman said the retrospective payroll tax measure would allow more GPS to operate safely without facing a huge tax bill that could have “shut them down”.

“The RACGP thanks Ministers Houssos and (Health Minister Ryan Park) for negotiating with the college in good faith and understanding the devastating impact the retroactive tax would have on NSW practices, patients and the state’s health system our,” she said.

“We appreciate the very tight budgetary constraints the NSW Government is under and know this decision has not been taken lightly.”

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