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Wednesday, 4 March 1970

A further new feature of these arrangements will be the payment of differential rates of medical benefits in the case of over 300 types of medical services - for example, confinements - which are customarily performed by either a general practitioner or a specialist. That is, higher benefits will be paid for these particular services when performed by a specialist than when performed by a general practitioner. The same principle will be applied to benefits for consultations by specialist physicians. Some sections of the medical profession engaged in general practice hold the view that the introduction of these differential benefit rates may be detrimental to general practice.

The Government fully recognises the particular value of general practice and the desirability of maintaining the high standards of this section of the medical profession. However, the Government is convinced that these arrangements, which have the support of the Australian Medical Association - the profession's official negotiating body - and which were recommended by the Nimmo Committee, are necessary in view of the medical profession's own long established policies and fee charging practices. It is considered that the provision of differential benefits is essential for the security of contributors against the actual costs of medical treatment. In accordance with established policy, these higher benefit rates for specialist services will apply only on referral by another practitioner but, in view of the scope of le new arrangements, the procedures adopted to identify referral cases will be reviewed.

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