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Regional Australia the poorer cousin when it comes to bulk billing.



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Media Release

CATHERINE KING MP

FEDERAL MEMBER FOR BALLARAT SHADOW PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY FOR REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT

18 February 2005

REGIONAL AUSTRALIA THE POORER COUSIN WHEN IT COMES TO BULK BILLING

The recently released electorate bulk billing figures demonstrate how the short term political fix approach to Medicare taken by the Howard Government has failed to address the bulk billing crisis in Regional Australia.

In Victoria and NSW there is a startling divide between regional bulk billing rates and Metropolitan.

The moderate increases in the national bulk billing rate to 70.9% are merely a mirage for Regional Australia.

In regional NSW the bulk billing rate is 5.1% below the national average and a massive 18.2% lower than bulk billing rates in Sydney.

In Victoria, regional bulk billing rates are the worst in Australia, 13.9% below that of the national average and that of Melbourne.

The figures get worse in NSW when you look at rural areas. Rural bulk billing rates are 61.9%, that is 23.8% lower than Sydney. For provincial and rural Australians in Victoria the figures are even more shocking with both areas bulk billing rate falling under 60%. Rural Victoria is 11.9% below the national average and the regional Victoria has slumped 13.9% below the national bulk billing rate.

At the last election Labor committed to a $1.5 billion package to increase the medical workforce, including doubling the amount of money for training of rural and regional specialists.

“The Howard Government has no effective policies in place to bring regional health services up to scratch. It is not only bulk billing doctors that regional Australia cannot access but obstetricians and dentists too. There is a health crisis in regional Australia and Howard Government is sitting on its hands,” Ms King said.

On top of this, out of pocket costs continue to increase for all Australians, out of pocket costs have soared 60.5 per cent from $8.89 to $14.27 in 2004, with a 5.2 per cent in 2004 alone.

“Regional Australia needs the Howard Government to stop thinking about short-term political fixes,” Ms King said.

“Australia is not getting value for money from the Howard Government. But after spending $4 billion regional Australia is getting the rough end of the stick, with significantly lower levels of bulk billing doctors than metropolitan areas,” Ms King said.

Regional bulk billing.xls (18 ...

For further details contact Rhys Davies (03) 5338 8123 or 0439 966 286

Chart 1: Rate of bulk-billing by geographical classification (Inner Metropolitan—Outer Metropolitan—Provincial—Rural), New Sou

Chart 2: Rate of bulk-billing by geographical classification (Metropolitan—Regional), New South Wales and Victoria, 2004

82.3%

70.7%

85.7%

71.1%

69.6%

54.9%

61.9%

59.0%

0.0%

10.0%

20.0%

30.0%

40.0%

50.0%

60.0%

70.0%

80.0%

90.0%

NSW Vic

Inner Metro Outer Metro Provincial Rural

84.0%

70.9%

65.8%

57.0%

0.0%

10.0%

20.0%

30.0%

40.0%

50.0%

60.0%

70.0%

80.0%

90.0%

NSW VIC

Metro Regional