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Emergency department costs to soar as bulk billing goes bust in Treasurer’s backyard

Primary Care Business Council 2 mins read

Media Release

10 April 2024

 

Emergency department cost to soar as bulk billing goes bust in Treasurer’s backyard

 

Werribee Mercy Hospital could see a more than $14 million blowout in annual costs due to the rising number of people flocking to the emergency room as a new general practice doctor tax cripples one of Victoria’s biggest bulk billing hotspots.

 

Modelling from the Primary Care Business Council shows an additional 22,000 patients will present to the emergency department each year at a cost of around $14.3 million because of the impact of what doctors are now calling the “Medicare tax”.

 

Dr Ged Foley, who operates the bulk billing Manor Lakes Medical Centre, said the Victoria Government needs to realise the impact it will have on patients.

 

“This tax is a tax on bulk billing. There is no viable way for doctors to continue bulk billing and cover the cost of this destructive new tax, patients will end up having to foot the bill,” Dr Foley said.

 

“It is going to hit hard in this area because many people rely on bulk billing. As the cost-of-living crisis continues patients will put off seeing a doctor and risk their health issues getting worse, or they will head to overstretched emergency departments which are already at breaking point.

 

“I don’t want to see my patients neglect their health because they can’t afford it.”

 

Under the proposed tax, Victorian general practices face retrospective taxes which will leave some clinics with bills as high as $800,000.

 

Dr Foley urged the Victoria Government to listen to the concerns of doctors before it was too late.


“We are staring down the barrel of the end of bulk billing in this State, and there are better options on the table,” Dr Foley said.  

 

“As part of Victoria’s second highest bulk billing area, people in the Treasurer’s electorate of Werribee are going be some of the hardest hit when doctors are left with no choice but to start charging fees just so that they can keep operating.

 

“Queensland has set a good example of implementing payroll tax without crippling the primary care network. We need common sense to prevail before Victoria’s primary care network is ruined.”

 

 

Media Inquiries: Jack Douglas 0450 115 005, jdouglas@hadvisorsapa.au

 

More information:

  • Based on PCBC modelling, the direct impact of the ‘Medicare tax’ will see an additional 800,000 patients in Victorian hospital emergency departments each year, costing $522 million.
  • A 1% increase in emergency department admissions will cost around $200 million each year.
  • The potential yearly revenue in payroll tax of $100 million would be far outweighed by the more than $700 million cost to emergency departments.

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