GPs biggest losers in Better Access cuts

THE Federal Government’s Budget decision to rein in spending under the Better Access mental health program by slashing GP rebates for mental health plans may spell disaster for patients, GP leaders have warned.

As the wider health community celebrates the $2.2 billion mental health package, the announced overhaul of rebates for drawing up mental health plans will see GPs take a $307 million hit. 

“This is a big slap in the face for family doctors, particularly at a time when an independent review of the Better Access program said 90% of GPs are providing these services,” said AMA vice-president Dr Steve Hambleton.

The decision will see the current rebate of $163.35 for a mental health plan for GPs trained in level 1 mental health skills replaced by a rebate based on timed consultations.

Rebates will now be $85.92 for a plan written during a consultation of 20–39 minutes, $126.43 for a 40-minute consult for GPs