GPs may be spared the pain of federal budget cuts

Health economists are predicting that after the backlash for cutting MBS rebates for GPs under the Better Access scheme last budget, the government is unlikely to make any big changes to primary healthcare spending.

While the government may look for targeted savings in the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and the Medicare safety net, it seems likely they will look elsewhere – such as health department staffing cuts – for potential savings in health say experts.

“Last year they made some pretty big decisions around Better Access and access to non-medical services,” said Bob Wells, director of the Australian National University’s Primary Health Care Research Institute.

“I suspect if they tried to do more saving than that this year... the kickback would be quite strong.”

Former finance department deputy secretary Stephen Bartos, now executive director of economics consultant ACIL Tasman, said the