The NSW Nationals in the federal government will invest more than $65 million from January next year to boost bulk billing rebates and provide more affordable healthcare for patients in regional, rural and remote areas.
A new, progressive incentive schedule will be used to increase the value of the Rural Bulk Billing Incentive based on remoteness, and more than 12,000 rural and remote G.Ps will be eligible to take part in the scheme.
This will enhance the financial viability of practices in rural and remote areas as well as reducing the gap paid by patients.
The more remote the area, the greater the incentive payment that will be received per eligible consultation to recognise the greater challenges and cost pressures.
NSW Nationals Regional Health Minister Mark Coulton said the government was delivering the new schedule in recognition of the ongoing need to provide the right incentives for the heath workforce in rural, regional and remote areas.
“Australians in rural and remote areas have poorer access to and use of health services, compared to people living in metropolitan areas,” Mr Coulton said.
“The new Rural Bulk Billing Incentive will support those GPs providing services to people in greatest need and who have the lowest propensity to pay for healthcare; our government understands GPs outside of our metropolitan areas face greater cost and workforce pressures.
“Doctors in the bush face a greater burden of responsibility, more complex care situations, and high rates of chronic disease compared with doctors in the cities, who can rely on support from other medical services and facilities.
“We want to make rural Australia a career destination of choice for aspiring rural doctors.”