Well there’s only one policy item at this time of year and that of course is the Federal Budget.

This year’s health budget seems to have been generally well received across the mainstream press. It appears to have had a more mixed reception across the medical press.

Perhaps because there were 5 pre-budget compacts struck with key organisations including the RACGP, AMA, Medicines Australia, the Pharmacy Guild and the strangely-named Generic and Biosimilar Medicines Association.

You can view the compacts here:


Here are the main items likely to affect you including some that might have been less prominent in the medical press.

5 key measures that may affect you and your practice:

  1. Medicare rebate thaw

Indexation for :

  1. Pathology rents ditched

The pathology rent deal that could have sent many GP practices down the gurgler was ditched. There will, however, be increased expenditure on compliance.

  1. Health Care Homes delayed

The first 20 practices in the Health Care Homes trial will commence activity in October 2017 (instead of July) with the following 180 commencing in December.

There is a mix of corporates, Aboriginal health services, after-hours services, GP-owned practices and some others in the group.

Practices will receive block payments of between $600-$1800 for the care of their patients with chronic disease.

  1. Small business tax cuts and write-offs implemented

Small businesses with a turnover of up to $10m will have their tax rate cut to 27.5% for the current financial year (provided this measure gets through the Senate!).

The same category of businesses will also still be able to write off expenditure of up to $20,000 for another year.

Time to invest in some new equipment?? Maybe with enhanced cyber-security following the disastrous ransomware hack on the NHS??

       5. Levy on 457 visas

There will be a $3,000 or $5,000 one-off levy for those on a permanent skilled visa and an annual levy of $1,200 or $1,800 on temporary work visas.

The list of occupations (which includes GPs and nurse practitioners) for medium and long-term 457s can be found here:


Other items:

MyHealth Record

An opt-out approach for MyHealth Record will be introduced. Details of just how this will work are scant.

Prescribing changes

Default prescribing of generics with savings to be plowed back into the PBS. Again, details of quite how this would be implemented are scant.

MBS Taskforce

Looks set to be a permanent committee after the 3-year extension provided in this budget.




Date reviewed: 31 July 2018

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