APA supports Government's backflip on Medicare rebate and shares its solution

15 January 2015

In the wake of the Government abandoning the Medicare rebate cuts, the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) has called for sustainable Medicare reforms through enabling physiotherapists to refer patients direct to specialists with a Medicare rebate, achieving $13 million (1) in savings each year.

“The Government’s said it will consult with the healthcare community for a sustainable plan: our solution is to enable physiotherapists to refer patients direct to specialists,” APA CEO Mr Massis said. “It will lead to immediate and significant lasting changes that will benefit patients and our healthcare system. It’s a simple reform that could save the Medicare Benefits Scheme millions.”

The APA has released its Pre-Budget Submission for 2015-16 which details APA’s recommendations on the referral to specialist issue. The Submission has been sent to all Federal Ministers and is available online.

Current legislation and Medicare funding barriers means physiotherapists must refer patients to a General Practitioner so patients qualify for a Medicare rebate.

“The extra doctor visit carries a Medicare cost, takes up the GP’s time and resources, and patients also carry the cost of gap payments. It also means patients must endure the additional inconvenience for having an extra visit,” Mr Massis said.

“Physiotherapists are highly qualified and experienced primary contact health professionals who are well respected by GPs and other health specialists as being an important part of the health system. GPs currently refer more patients to physiotherapists than any other single group (2).”

Visit here for more information on referral to specialists.

For further information, or to speak with an expert physiotherapist, please contact:

Katie Croft - Australian Physiotherapy Association
P: (+61) 3 9092 0891 M (+61) 0413 780 545
E katie.croft@physiotherapy.asn.au

(1) Joshua M. Byrnes A C and Tracy A. Comans A B. Medicare rebate for specialist medical practitioners from physiotherapy referrals: analysis of the potential impact on the Australian healthcare system. 23 October 2014. A Centre for Applied Health Economics, Griffith University. Meadowbrook. Australian Health Review – viewed at: http://www.publish.csiro.au/paper/AH13196.htm on 24 October 2014
(2) Britt H, Miller GC, Henderson J, Bayram C, Valenti L, Harrison C, Charles J, Pan Y, Zhang C, Pollack AJ, O’Halloran J. General practice activity in Australia 2012–13. General practice series no.33. Sydney: Sydney University Press, 2013.