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New incentives for GPs to treat rural veterans.

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DVA 103 Friday 6 July 2001

New Incentives for GPs to Treat Rural Veterans

The Liberal-National Government had strengthened its commitment to caring for veterans and war widows living in rural areas in four States, with increased payments for general practitioners who treated entitled members of the veteran community, the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Bruce Scott, said today.

Speaking at the WA RSL State, Mr Scott announced new fees for rural Local Medical Officers in Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales, who admit entitled veterans and war widows for hospital treatment as veteran patients rather than as public patients.

For example, the fee for a hospital consultation will increase from $47.10 to $51.80 for the first patient, while the fee for the removal of minor skin lesions will increase from $74.25 to $81.70.

The Minister said the new agreement was part of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Repatriation Commission and the Australian Medical Association, aimed at further improving the care provided to veterans by GPs registered as Local Medical Officers under the Repatriation Comprehensive Care Scheme.

"Currently, many DVA entitled veterans with Gold Cards are being treated as public patients in these rural areas, because public hospital fees for general practitioners are higher than through DVA arrangements," Mr Scott said.

"Veterans are adamant that they want to be treated under the Gold Card which is their special entitlement. 

"This agreement will increase LMO fees for providing care to veterans by 10 per cent, to provide parity with payments available through the State hospital system.  These new arrangements should be to the satisfaction of both veterans and their treating general practitioners."

Mr Scott said the Memorandum of Understanding recognised the central role that Local Medical Officers play in coordinating health care that meets the individual needs of veterans or war widows.

"This agreement ensures that rural LMOs will be properly remunerated for this important role.  The increase in payments will also provide an additional incentive to encourage GPs to practice in rural areas."

The new payments will take effect from 15 September 2001, with a one-off retrospective payment. 

"The Liberal-National Government has made it a top priority to continually improve the level of health care available to the one-third of veterans and war widows who live outside our cities," Mr Scott said.

"This agreement represents another important step in carrying through our commitment to meet the needs of those who have served their country."

Media Contact:   Mark Croxford   02 6277 7820    or     0408 645 787


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