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AMA President to lead national discussion of GP changes

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A raft of policy changes rocking general practice and the delivery of primary health care will be the focus of a webinar being hosted by AMA President Associate Professor Brian Owler and Chair of the AMA Council of General Practice Dr Brian Morton next week.

A/Professor Owler said the webinar was an opportunity for AMA members to hear directly from the Association’s leadership about its advocacy on behalf of GPs during a turbulent period in health policy, as well as to provide their ideas and feedback.

“The 2014 Commonwealth Budget contained a number of significant changes to general practice,” the AMA President said. “[These] included the co-payment proposal, GP training, primary health networks and the incursion of private insurers into general practice.”

A/Professor Owler said the AMA had been active on all these fronts as it sought to support quality care, protect the interests of patients, and improve support for GPs.

“We have been using the challenges posed by the Budget to highlight the critical role of GPs and the urgent need for appropriate investment in quality general practice,” he said.

In its counter-proposal to the Government’s plan for a $7 GP co-payment, the AMA argued against the move to slash $5 from the Medicare rebate for GP, pathology and radiology services, urged that concession card holders and children younger than 16 years be exempted from any upfront charge, and instead suggested a $6.15 payment for those patients who could afford it.

In addition, the AMA has condemned cost-cuts that will radically alter the deliver of GP training, including the abolition of General Practice Education and Training, the replacement of regional training providers with commercial for–profit operators and the scrapping of the Prevocational General Practice Placements Program.

A/Professor Owler said these were all major changes that could have far-reaching effects on the delivery of primary health, and he and Dr Morton were keen to canvass the views of AMA members.

The webinar will be held from 7pm on Thursday, 23 October.

To register, contact mgrybaitis@ama.com.au

Adrian Rollins