Medicare rebate freeze hurting regional health

REGIONAL health patients and their doctors are facing the growing barriers posed by a freeze on the Medicare rebate for two more years.

Treasurer Scott Morrison's budget, handed down on Tuesday, has been dubbed a funding "Siberia" for continuing several years of freezes on indexed increases to the rebate.

Rural Doctors Association of Australia president Dr Ewen McPhee said the continued freeze would "send more rural and remote patients to the healthcare equivalent of deepest, darkest Siberia".

"Those rural and remote Australians who can least afford to miss out on healthcare are being hurt the most by this irresponsible and unrelenting measure," he said.

"We implore the Turnbull government to end the freeze urgently in the lead-up to the election."

Dr McPhee said rural doctors were also concerned about a $21 million budget cut to "streamline" the GP practice incentives program and this could mean it would be downgraded.

"We desperately need to see the fine details around what the government is proposing here," he said.

The Federal Budget fails to offer a comprehensive plan to address the difference in health outcomes between city and rural people.


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