THE bulk-billing rate at Grafton Super Clinic is above the national average for regional centres, Senate estimates has been told.
Department of Health and Ageing GP super clinics director Anne Thorpe told the hearing the clinic's bulk-billing rate since opening in October was more than 81%, more than 4% above the regional average of 76.7%. The national average is about 80%.
Ms Thorpe was responding to a question from Liberal Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, who asked if the bulk-billing rate at Grafton was 69.7%. She was referring to media reports from earlier in the year.
"The actual decision to bulk-bill is made by each GP," Ms Thorpe said.
"However, what is very common at Grafton is that patients who are under 18 years of age, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, pensioners and health care concession card holders are bulk-billed."
She said patients requiring treatment for chronic illnesses were always bulk-billed at the Grafton clinic.
"The super clinic program ... is targeted at people with chronic disease."
Senator Fierravanti-Wells went on to ask if Ochre Health's original application for the Grafton clinic indicated concession cardholders and children under 16 would be bulk-billed.
Ms Thorpe took the question on notice, but said "we don't normally discuss the content of what's in the original proposal."
"But importantly what we do look at is are they going to make sure that people that need access to services are able to receive those services in a way that is affordable.
"So yes we would have had consideration for that at the time."
Grafton GP Super Clinic opened in October
Bulk billing is 81%
The regional average is 76.7%
The national average is 80%