The lifting of the Medicare Benefits Schedule freeze indexation is long overdue and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) is encouraged by reports that this change is imminent.
The freeze, which has been in place since 2013, means that while the costs of running a practice continue to grow in accordance with the consumer price index, the amount paid for medical services remains static.
In many cases this has led to out of pocket fees for patients growing thereby making health care increasingly unaffordable for many Australians.
‘This is an issue of affordability, patient access and equity - doctors want to provide the best level of care possible for our patients and the freeze makes this more difficult,’ said Professor Malcolm Hopwood, President of the RANZCP.
‘Patients cannot be expected to simply find the money to pay for increasing gap payments and doctors can’t continue to absorb the costs of running a practice.
‘Reversing the Medicare freeze should absolutely be a top priority for the federal government going into the May budget.
‘Our concern is that continuing the Medicare freeze will mean that more people in need of help will be unable to access care and their conditions may deteriorate resulting in potentially more serious health problems.’
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The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists is a membership organisation that prepares medical specialists in the field of psychiatry, supports and enhances clinical practice, advocates for people affected by mental illness and advises governments on mental health care. For information about our work, our members or our history, visit www.ranzcp.org.