AMA President, A/Prof Owler, has welcomed the admission on 25 November from Health Minister, Peter Dutton, that the Government would not introduce its unfair co-payment proposals or its plan to cut $5 from the Medicare patient rebate by regulation, if it fails to get its legislation through the Parliament.
A/Prof Owler said that mounting Senate opposition to the co-payments provides the Government with the perfect opportunity to give the Australian people an early Christmas present by dumping the flawed policy altogether.
“The Minister’s comments highlight the dual impacts of the Government’s Budget measures for health,” A/Prof Owler said.
“On the one hand, the Government wants the sickest and the poorest Australians to pay more for their health care with co-payments for general practice, diagnostic imaging, and pathology services.
“On the other, the Government wants to cut $3.5 billion in Medicare patient rebates for GP, diagnostic imaging, and pathology services by slashing the rebates by $5.
“Australians do not want or deserve these harsh unfair measures, which will deter many people from seeking the vital health care they need.
“The poor, the chronically ill, the elderly, and Indigenous Australians would be the hardest hit.
“The Government should dump these policies immediately.”
A/Prof Owler said the AMA has been prepared to work cooperatively with the Government to develop a fair model of co-payments that protects disadvantaged patients and boosts vital investment in frontline GP services.
“Instead of this collaborative approach, the Government has focused solely on making funding cuts to vital everyday services that keep people healthy and productive,” A/Prof Owler said.
“This undermines the sustainability of the most efficient parts of the health system, with the potential to drive up health costs in the long term.
“The AMA urges the Government to recognise and acknowledge that the future of our health system depends on timely, affordable access to high quality primary care services.
“By engaging with the AMA and the profession, the Government could produce an alternative co-payment model that is sustainable and fair, and which is more acceptable to the Senate.”
Source: Australian Medical Association (AMA)