PRIME Minister Kevin Rudd has thrown another big wad of cash on the table – this time for diabetics – in a bid to secure his federal hospital funding takeover.
Mr Rudd announced new spending of $436 million to pay GPs to take continuous responsibility for diabetics.
But the initiative brought mixed reactions from doctors’ groups and health academics.
Some lauded the policy as visionary and others complained they were not consulted. Under the plan, to begin in mid-2012, GPs would be paid “around $1200 a year on average” for every enrolled diabetic patient to cover the costs of day-to-day GP care and additional non-hospital services such as podiatry, dietitian services and physiotherapy.
The payments would be made to the GP instead of Medicare payments and would only cost the patient if the doctor charges above the scheduled fee. GPs also will be eligible for additional incentive payments of up to $10,800 a year to register with the program and enrol patients.
Health complications associated with diabetes account for fully one third of all hospital admissions.
Only weeks ago, Mr Rudd announced $632 million in funding to address medical workforce shortages and train more doctors.
Royal Australian College of General Practitioners president, Chris Mitchell said it “will be pleased to work on a revised proposal with the Government to support the delivery of care that we know our patients need”.
The AMA also complained about not being consulted.
But Australian Primary Health Care Institute Director Robert Wells welcomed the policy. “I applaud the Prime Minister and the Minister for Health for demonstrating that the Government is serious about informing its policies with evidence,” Mr Wells said.