Reflections on the 2017 Federal Budget and what it means for GP's

For dental support, families will receive an extra $300 to spend on their children’s dental care every two years. The amount families can spend on dental check-ups, fillings and other basic dental work every two years will rise from $700 to $1,000 as a result.


Doctors prescribing medicines will also be encouraged to prescribe more generic brands to save taxpayers $1.8 billion. The new listings on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme will include a $510 million new drug for patients with chronic heart failure. Large pharmaceutical companies will wear the pain for these cuts in return for certainty of funding a new five year agreement with the government.

Improved access to telehealth

People in remote areas with mental health problems have been promised access to city-based psychiatrists via a new $9m telehealth program. People suffering a mental illness who don’t qualify for care under the NDIS will continue to have access to psychosocial support programs under an $80m plan that will provide community support, matched by State funding if approved.

Healthcare homes start delayed

The Government’s flagship Health Care Homes (HCH) program, meant to revolutionise GP care by tying patients to a single GP practice, has been delayed. Of the shortlisted practices, 20 will launch the program in October with the bulk of practices participating in the trial – a further 180 – to start in December.

We continue to harbour concerns about how the implementation of the HCH model will impact the taxation arrangements of both practices and contracting GPs, with little apparent consideration being given to what we see will be a fundamental change in the tax status of practitioners at participating practices.

The good news is that the Turnbull Government has pledged $10 billion to healthcare.

Pathology rents

One positive arising out of pre-budget negotiations and lobbying is that the Government appears to have dropped their plan to limit the rent payable by pathology centres to GP practices. The budget does commit a further $18m towards audit and compliance programs designed to support existing rental regulations.

An industry under pressure

It is hard to see that any of the announcements will help address the fundamental issues facing General Practice. Recent studies have confirmed declines in job satisfaction, decreasing work life balance, ongoing pressure on GP net incomes and a shift in graduate numbers away from general practice into specialisations.

GP practices and individual contracting GPs have a long road ahead as they wait for any meaningful outcomes from the loosening of the Medicare freeze. In the interim, we continue to work with practitioners and practices to streamline processes, improve reporting and financial management and maximise the opportunities available to improve after-tax outcomes. Drawing on more than 25 years of industry practice we combine the skills, knowledge and know-how of chartered accountants, tax specialists, financial planners, business managers and cloud system experts to help practice owners and contractors to manage for prosperity.