In the May Budget, the Government announced that it would cut Medicare rebates by $5 for GP, pathology, and diagnostic imaging services, and cut back bulk billing incentives.
The Government also announced that it would apply a $7 co-payment to these services.
This policy was developed without any input from the medical profession. The AMA was not consulted on the detail of this policy.
On Budget night, the AMA sent a clear message to the Government – we cannot support a co-payment model that hurts the most vulnerable patients in the community.
We have campaigned against the Government’s co-payment model ever since.
The AMA is not opposed to all co-payments. We believe that people who have the capacity to contribute to the cost of their care should do so. Co-payments already exist. Around 20 per cent of GP visits are currently privately billed and the patient makes a contribution to the cost of their care.
But the AMA cannot support a co-payment model that hurts the poor, the elderly, the chronically ill, and Indigenous Australians the hardest.
We cannot support a co-payment model that further disadvantages the most disadvantaged.
We cannot support a co-payment that deters people from seeing their doctor for vital health care services and advice.
We cannot support a co-payment that is virtually impossible to implement, especially for pathology and diagnostic imaging providers.
We cannot support a co-payment that creates a bureaucratic red tape nightmare for medical practices.
The Government’s co-payment model does all these things. It must be stopped.
It is an unfair attack on funding for essential frontline health services with inadequate protection for disadvantaged patients.
If people delay accessing health care, they will get sicker and need more expensive interventions and hospital stays – driving up the costs of our health care system.
The AMA and others have repeatedly raised serious concerns, but the Government has refused to listen. It has refused to engage. It has refused to negotiate.
It is important to know that the AMA also supports the concept of the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), but we do not support it being partially funded by co-payments paid by vulnerable patients.
The $7 co-payment and Medicare cut only represent a quarter of the $20 billion to be accumulated by 2020.
Stopping the Government’s co-payment plan doesn’t mean that MRFF should be stopped as well. The MRFF can be established with the savings already made. It may mean that the Fund takes two more years to accumulate $20 billion, or it could be a still substantial $15 billion Fund – but there would still be a Fund without the co-payment.
The AMA has set this website up so that you can be part of our campaign against the Government’s proposals.
By clicking on the link for your State/Territory, you can access a web form that allows you to email your local member to voice your concerns.
A copy of your email will also be sent to the Senate representatives for your State/Territory.
A copy of your email will also be sent to the Prime Minister, the Health Minister, and the Treasurer.
The AMA is of the strong view that additional investment in primary care, especially general practice, is at the core of the sustainability of our health system.
General practice must be funded and resourced to address the health needs of an ageing population, more and more patients with multiple chronic conditions, and greater demand for preventive health education and advice.
The Government’s co-payment model is not the answer. Together, we must stop it.
A/Prof Brian Owler