Senate debates

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Questions without Notice

Medicare

2:31 pm

Photo of Nigel ScullionNigel Scullion (NT, Country Liberal Party, Minister for Indigenous Affairs) Share this | Hansard source

Thank you for the question. It is an important one. It is probably important to make the distinction between a vocationally registered doctor and one who is not vocationally registered. A vocationally registered doctor is someone who is not only qualified as a doctor but has the prerequisite training and experience in a particular field to be actually examined or assessed by either of the colleges of general practice.

It is the case that the new schedules indicate that there is 20 per cent less you get on that schedule if you are not a vocationally registered doctor than if you are. Just for the basis of information: fully qualified specialist general practitioners who belong to either of the colleges of general practice are able to continue to access the same MBS item they had before in recognition of their qualifications and their skills. As you have indicated, Senator, the reduction only applies to the non-VR medical practitioners.

We have provided funding, through the general practice colleges, for a fellowship support program to ensure that we can support those individuals who haven't had the experience in that area. We've actually had, for a very long time, since the late 1980s, differential approaches to some of the Medicare rebates. The mischief we are trying to resolve is that a number of people who are non-vocationally registered are now in circumstances where they're getting full VR access but they're making absolutely no effort to get the experience that is required by others. This is a disincentive to that happening, and we think it's an important initiative.

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