Latest update – Strengthening Medicare budget measures

MyMedicare registration for residential aged care homes

WAPHA continues to support general practices and providers to register with MyMedicare and is working with the Australian Government on how to best support residential aged care homes (RACH) with patient registration, noting the importance of both the practice and patient providing informed consent. From 1 August 2024, GPs and practices registered in MyMedicare will receive incentives for providing their registered patients who permanently reside in a RACH with regular visits and better care planning, improving continuity of care and reducing avoidable hospitalisations. More information on registering RACH residents is available here.

Tripling of bulk billing incentives

Registered MyMedicare practices can access more information about regular patients, which makes it easier to tailor services to fit individual patient’s needs. These practices are also eligible for longer telehealth items such as longer MBS-funded telephone calls and triple bulk billing incentives for longer MBS telehealth consultations for children under 16, pensioners, and concession card holders.

General Practice in Aged Care Incentive

The Australian Government is investing $112 million over 4 years in the General Practice in Aged Care Incentive to support every aged care resident to receive quality primary care services from a regular GP and practice.

From 1 August 2024, GPs and practices registered in MyMedicare will receive incentives for providing their registered patients who permanently live in a RACH with regular visits and better care planning, improving continuity of care and reducing avoidable hospitalisations.

From late 2023, Primary Health Networks (PHN) will be funded to work with RACHs to match residents with a regular primary care provider in MyMedicare where they do not have one. From 2024, PHNs will have will also have access to a needs-based funding pool to commission GPs to provide care in RACHs in areas of critical workforce shortage or market failure.

WAPHA and the PHN Cooperative are working with the Australian Government to inform design of the measure, including identifying challenges and opportunities and to better understand implementation requirements.

PHN Commissioning of multidisciplinary teams

WAPHA supports the delivery of integrated, patient-centred and multidisciplinary care. To support the development of appropriate outcome measures for the Commissioning of Multidisciplinary Teams budget measure, WAPHA has contributed several case studies to the Australian Government that comprise care provided by a range of health professionals including nurse practitioners, non-dispensing pharmacists, social workers, exercise physiologists, optometrists, podiatrists, and other allied health professionals. WAPHA also participated in the National Collaborative Forum of PHNs and Allied Health Peaks to further inform discussions and planning.

Wraparound primary care for frequent hospital users

From July 2024, the Australian Government will introduce the Wraparound Primary Care for Frequent Hospital Users program and incentive payments. The program will support complex patients who frequently present to hospital emergency departments to connect to a primary care practice through MyMedicare. This will enable patients to receive comprehensive, multidisciplinary team care in the community to improve management of chronic conditions leading to better health outcomes and reduced unplanned hospital presentations. WAPHA, along with Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations, state and territory Local Health Networks, peak bodies and consumer groups, was invited to participate in co-design workshops with the aim of ensuring that the program supports primary care providers and their teams to manage complex chronic conditions in the community.

Commissioning primary health care services into thin markets

The 2023-24 Budget included the Strengthening Medicare – Support for Health, Care and Support Services in

Thin Markets measure which provides for:

  • Funding of $16.55 million for 2023-24 to extend the GP Incentive Fund. This will allow resources to be allocated to PHNs where market failure occurs to commission additional services.
  • Scoping and developing an innovative approach to increase capacity through PHNs in thin markets to be presented in the 2024-25 budget process.
  • A stocktake and review of policy and program levers to support responses in thin markets to be presented in the 2024-25 Budget process.

In commissioning additional services, WAPHA will be required to work closely with local service providers,

including HSPs, WA Health, aged care, disability and key community stakeholders to develop a plan to support recovery and stabilising the local service system. PHNs will be funded to commission the range of additional services and support encompassed by the approved recovery plan.

Interventions that may occur over the coming 12 months will provide an opportunity to test current thinking about thin markets and inform the development of a longer-term approach to enhance the capacity of health,

care and support service systems in thin markets.  WAPHA is currently engaged in consultation with the Australian Government, WACHS and WA Health to discuss opportunities for commissioning primary health care services in WA’s thin markets.

Single Employer Model

The implementation of a Single Employer Model was a recommendation to the National Rural Health Commissioner in Australia in 2018. Following the pilots in Murrumbidgee NSW, the Riverlands South Australia and across Tasmania, the Australian Government announced an additional 10 pilots across Australia, including Western Australia.

The Single Employer Model supports the recruitment and retention of GP Registrars by a single entity (not the state or territory government or local health districts) for a particular region and will help address inequity in trainee Salaries and entitlements for GP Registrars and their hospital-based peers. It is intended that the program will contribute to building a more sustainable primary health care workforce in the future, with only 13 per cent of medical students in Australia seeking a career in general practice. As the stewards of primary health care in WA, WAPHA is well placed to provide support and advice on the model as well as use our local knowledge to identify potential suitable trial site(s), based on needs and resources, to continuously support our local communities and improve the retention of GP in our regional areas.  WAPHA has provided a WA proof of concept model to the Department of Health and Aged Care for its consideration.

General practice incentives review

From August 2019, the Australian Government has provided funding for the Practice Incentive Program Quality Improvement (PIP QI) incentives for general practices. Practices participating in quality improvement activities to improve patient outcomes and deliver best practice care can receive a maximum of $12,500 per quarter through WAPHA. We have continuously supported all general practices in our region with resources for registration, data collection, accreditation and IT supports. The Federal Budget 2023-24 announced that the PIP QI program has been extended for an additional year, during which an extensive review will be undertaken by the Australian Government, which will be supported by WAPHA.  WAPHA has contributed to a recent consultation with the Department of Health and Aged Care and will facilitate further input to the review through the GP Advisory Panel.