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Pathologists happy with new deal but it’s ‘another blow for GPs’

Pathologists happy with new deal but it’s ‘another blow for GPs’ - Featured Image

GPs have expressed concerns over the Coalition’s announcement that it will cap rent on pathology collection centres.

The deal would take place under a returned Turnbull Coalition Government and will help reduce regulatory cost pressures on pathology providers to help them provide affordable services and maintain current bulk billing rates.

It’s a move that is supported by the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia:

“The Coalition’s new proposed plans will see a delay in the changes to the bulk billing incentive, as well as a solution to the high cost of rents being paid for pathology collection centres. In addition there will be a moratorium for the next 3 years on any further changes to Pathology Services Table without agreement from the profession.  The RCPA believes this will result in the profession maintaining the current billing practices and high quality services and efficiencies offered,” Dr Michael Harrison, President of the RCPA said.

Related: New report shines light on pathology’s worth

However the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners says the changes are another blow to GPs, on top of the ongoing Medical Benefits Freeze.

“The RACGP has always supported universal access to healthcare services and therefore welcomes the announcement of continued bulk-billing arrangements for pathology services,” RACGP President Dr Frank Jones said.

“However, the proposed changes effectively create an anti-competitive environment, where multi-national corporations who make hundreds of millions of profit each year are propped up, while GPs running small businesses lose funding.”

Related: MJA – Inappropriate pathology ordering and pathology stewardship

AMA President Professor Brian Owler said the deal “doesn’t guarantee anything”.

“The cut to bulk billing incentives for pathology has merely been deferred. The cuts are still there, they’re still taking $650 million out of health over the next four years,” Professor Owler said.

He also said there is no guarantee that the pathologists will not abandon bulk billing.

When he spoke to Pathology Australia, they admitted they don’t have the ability to make that guarantee.

“It will be up to the individual pathology companies to actually make that decision over time,” he said.

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