24 June 2024

New bulk-billing initiative to ease cost-of-living pressure

| Jarryd Rowley
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NSW Treasurer Daniel Mookhey and MP Courtney Houssos

NSW Treasurer Daniel Mookhey and MP Courtney Houssos have announced a $188.8 million initiative to incentivise GPs to continue bulk billing. Picture: Courtney Houssos MP Facebook.

A new $189 million investment from the NSW Government has been announced to encourage general practitioners to continue bulk billing patients.

To keep appointments affordable for all people, the State Government has introduced a new ongoing payroll tax rebate for contractor GPs at clinics that meet bulk-billing thresholds as well as a waiver for past unpaid payroll tax liability for contractor GP wages to 4 September 2024.

A statement released by the NSW Government said the investment would protect bulk-billing rates by reducing financial pressures on GP practices so they didn’t pass on additional costs to patients, and ultimately saving clinics from closure.

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“The new initiative will also reduce the strain on the state’s busy hospital emergency departments. NSW Health estimates that a 1 per cent decrease in bulk billing equates to around 3000 additional emergency presentations,” the statement read.

“Once enacted, the NSW Government will give an ongoing payroll tax rebate for contractor GP wages to be provided to clinics with bulk-billing rates above 80 per cent in metropolitan Sydney, and above 70 per cent in the rest of the state.”

The NSW Government has also made the decision to be the first state to legislate a full retrospective waiver for past unpaid payroll tax liabilities for contractor GP wages.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) and the Australian Medical Association (AMA) have both worked closely with the NSW Government to develop the new initiative with both organisations’ leaders commending the state for its decision to legislate the waiver for previous unpaid payroll tax liabilities.

“AMA NSW welcomes the decision by the NSW Minns Government to legislate to guarantee no retrospective payroll tax liability for general practice. The Minns Government will be the first state to offer this guarantee in legislation,” AMA President Dr Micahel Bonning said.

“Legislating ‘no retrospective’ will provide certainty for practices and will minimise the risk of more closures of general practices in NSW.”

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RACGP NSW & ACT Chair Dr Rebekah Hoffman said she applauded the initiative by the NSW Government, believing that the retrospective payroll tax would allow GPs across NSW to keep their doors open.

“The RACGP thanks Minister for Finance, Minister for Domestic Manufacturing and Government Procurement Courtney Houssos and Minister for Health and Medical Research Ryan Park for negotiating with the college in good faith and for understanding the devastating impact the retrospective tax would have on NSW practices, patients, and our state’s health system,” she said.

“We appreciate the very tight budgetary constraints the NSW Government is under and know this decision wasn’t taken lightly.

“The tax arrangements going forward will reduce future liabilities and will go a long way to ensuring NSW practices remain viable and open for patients, and those that are bulk billing may continue.”

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