Payroll tax for General Practice could mean the end of Bulk Billing in Australia
7th March, 2023
In July 2025, the QLD government will begin enforcing a payroll tax on general practitioners who currently practice as independent contractors in medical centres. To be clear, medical centres and practices in QLD currently pay payroll tax on their staff including receptionists and nurses. This change will require payroll tax to be paid on independent healthcare practitioners who are clinical contractors and pay a service fee to use the room and services within medical practices.
Introducing payroll tax on GP’s could mean the end of bulk billing in QLD and the rest of the country. If it goes ahead, bulk billing medical centres will be forced to introduce private billing as there is no longer any capacity to absorb increased operational costs after 10 years of Medicare neglect and skyrocketing overheads such as staffing, consumable & energy costs.
Cornerstone Health’s purpose is to increase access to quality healthcare for all Australians. We operate five bulk-billing medical centres in areas of fast population growth and young families in Greater Brisbane and on the Gold Coast. We operate a further eight large-scale medical centres in Greater Sydney and Greater Melbourne. These medical centres are the hubs for primary healthcare in their local communities, providing bulk billed general practice services 365 days a year until 10pm.
If the payroll tax on general practitioners goes ahead, this means patients will need to pay upfront for their GP consult and most, but not all, of this money will be reimbursed by Medicare in a couple of days. When you or a family member are sick, you shouldn’t need to make the decision between seeing a doctor or putting food on the table.
General practice patients presenting to hospital emergency departments or calling for ambulances will escalate at an even more rapid rate, costing the health system many times more than if the patient had been seen in a general practice setting.
What’s more, this will only exacerbate the shortage of GPs in Australia - the 2022 GP Workforce Report predicted a shortfall of one in three GPs within the decade. Since this report was prepared, funding and policy decisions at the federal and state level have done nothing to abate the decline. This latest decision by the QLD government will only make it worse.
The introduction of payroll tax on general practitioners is a short-sighted new tax grab that could mean the end of bulk billing general practice in QLD and Australia forever. Cornerstone Health is calling on the QLD government to recognise this for what it is - a health issue not a treasury issue.
We will be raising awareness of this issue with patients in QLD including launching an online petition against the tax: https://www.change.org/stopthepatienttax