As part of the Stronger Rural Health Strategy announced in the 2018-19 Budget, the Government is reforming Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) item fee arrangements for non-VR GPs.
Associated with the new fee structure is the discontinuation of the Other Medical Practitioner (OMP) programs (i.e. After Hours OMPs, Medicare Plus for OMPs, Outer Metropolitan OMPs and Rural OMPs), which currently allow eligible non-VR General Practitioners (GPs) to access A1 rebate.
When are the changes taking effect?
As of 1 November 2018, no new participants will be admitted to OMPs programs. Under a grandfathering arrangement, doctors who are participating on one of the OMPs programs will be given up to 30 June 2023 to fulfil their commitment to obtaining fellowship.
There are no changes to the MBS fees payable to VR (Fellowed) GPs or to registrars training on the Australian General Practice Training Program, Remote Vocational Training Scheme and Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine Independent Pathway.
What are the fee structure changes?
A new MBS item group will establish differential (tiered) rebates on GP items for non-VR GPs that integrate an incentive for doctors to become fully qualified and to work where they are needed most.
New MBS items have been created under Group A7 – Acupuncture and non-Specialist Practitioner items. These items replicate the General Practice items under Schedule A of the MBS, and set the relevant item fee at 80% of the equivalent VR item.
So what does this mean for you?
If you’re a non-VR GP and you are not participating in an approved training or OMPs program (such as ROMPs), you should apply by midnight on 31 October 2018.
Once approved on an OMPs program - and subject to continuing compliance with program guidelines and rules - you will continue to have access to A1 rebate at eligible locations until 30 June 2023.
You will otherwise be subject to the new fee structure and access the relevant Group 7 items at 80% of the equivalent VR items.
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