Improving access to bulk-billing doctors in South Canberra

Canberrans living in the Tuggeranong and Molonglo Valley will benefit from more bulk-billing GPs, under a re-elected Labor Government, with a $1 million investment in three new medical practices.

The capital grant of up to $1.05 million would see three new bulk-billing general practices built: two in Tuggeranong and one in the growing Molonglo Valley. This will help to promote a healthier community and address a lack of bulk-billing practices in these areas.

Healthcare has always been a priority for ACT Labor. That’s why we are already expanding the emergency department, building a new teaching hospital and opening two more free nurse walk-in centres. And it’s why we’re supporting these new doctors.

This funding will be delivered through a competitive capital grants process, with successful organisations being able to construct modern, accessible and welcoming health facilities in areas of unmet need in the ACT.

Establishing more bulk-billing GP facilities in the ACT will deliver affordable and accessible health care that will improve the quality of life for Canberrans, particularly those who are most vulnerable, as well as reducing the burden on the public health system.

To be eligible for the grants, providers must deliver bulk-billing GP services. Provision of low or no cost primary care services, such as psychology, diabetes support, and physiotherapy will also be considered favourably by the Government when awarding grants, along with the delivery of other innovative healthcare services to the community.

Labor has worked hard to encourage bulk-billing in the ACT. In 2009, the Government awarded a $220,000 start-up capital grant to the National Health Co-op to establish its first facility in Charnwood it will open its sixth clinic shortly. Other providers have also opened new GP practices in recent years.

Canberra still has one of the lowest bulk-billing rates in Australia. This has not been not helped by the Federal Coalition’s Government’s determination to kill Medicare through an indefinite rebate freeze and attempted $7 co-payment to see a doctor.

The local Liberal Opposition supported a move to a user-pays visit to the doctor – in 2014,

Opposition Leader Jeremy Hanson called Medicare “unsustainable” and agreed with the Federal Coalition policy that “from 1 July 2015, previously bulk-billed patients will be asked to contribute $7 to the cost of each visit to the GP.”

Unlike the Liberals, ACT Labor values GPs and the work that they do for patients, and today’s investment builds on Labor’s strong record of encouraging bulk-billing in the ACT.

Under a re-elected Labor Government the grants process will commence in early 2017, be funded in the 2017 Budget.