Budget 2018: The number of GPs brought to Australia on visas each year will be cut from 2,300 to 2,100 to reduce Medicare costs.
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The Turnbull government will achieve the biggest single saving in the 2018 Budget by cutting Australia’s annual intake of overseas-trained GPs by 200 places.
The total number of GPs granted visas each year will fall from 2,300 places to 2,100 in a move designed to limit an “oversupply” in some urban areas, officials told SBS News.
But the government will also “improve the targeting” of the visas to hit areas with doctor shortages, including regional areas.
Restricting the total number of doctors will reduce the demand for Medicare and medicine covered by the PBS, delivering massive savings worth $416 million over the next four years, according to government modelling.
The vast majority of the savings will be drawn from the Department of Health, meaning the savings are a result of fewer Australians accessing medical services.
“Better managing the total number of doctors entering the system and directing them to areas of need has made available $415.5 million over four years,” the Budget papers say.
The savings - which are the biggest single saving in the 2018 Budget — will be redirected to “fund Health policy priorities”.
Adam Coltzau, president of the Rural Doctors Association, said "rural doctors and rural communities welcome this budget." He said his group had been agitating for the redirection of GPs for "some time".