Pressure continues to mount on the federal government to rule out plans for any form of Medicare patient co-payment. The ANMF is now backing criticisms from senior Liberal MP Mal Brough of his own party’s approach to primary care funding.
Brough argued that GP spending was not out of control and that any form of patient co-payment made little economic and policy sense.
“I am suggesting to the government that we should be taking the co-payment off the table, full stop,” he said.
ANMF federal secretary Lee Thomas backed Brough’s call and urged health minister Sussan Ley to “listen to the concerns of health experts and people throughout the community who are all opposed to the introduction of Medicare co-payments and start the consultation process she promised when she took office”.
“Whether it’s a $7 fee for health consumers, a $5 reduction in Medicare rebates for doctors, or attacks on other services, it just adds up to more out-of-pocket costs that will hurt more and more Australians – eventually resulting in the erosion of our universal healthcare system as we know it,” Thomas said.
In January, the Coalition Government abandoned a scheduled change to time-based GP Medicare Benefits Schedule items that would have meant the $37.05 rebate for a level B consultation would be paid only for consultations lasting at least 10 minutes.
At the time, Ley said the government remained committed to reforming the MBS in order to provide long-term sustainability. She also pledged to consult with professional groups regarding the need for reforms, which she said would include the need for a “price signal of a modest co-payment into the health system for those who have the capacity to pay”.
Thomas said yesterday that: “As nurses and midwives, we are once again reminding this government that all Australians should have access to quality healthcare when they need it, where they need it … It should not be available only to those who can afford to pay for it.
“Medicare must not be undermined or dismantled. Co-payments are not the answer to funding our health system.”Do you have an idea for a story?
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