Renewed call to scrap "simply un-Australian" co-payment

12 January, 2015

Following the end-of-year federal cabinet reshuffle, health lobby group the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) has called on newly installed Health Minister Sussan Ley to "scrap the co-payment once and for all".

"This manipulation of the Medicare rebate punishes those who provide care in our community by turning doctors into tax collectors," said Michael Moore, the CEO of the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA).

"The PHAA calls on Sussan Ley as the new Minister for Health to listen to the electorate and scrap the co-payment in all its guises once and for all.

"The revised co-payment is simply un-Australian.

"The Government is attempting to dupe Australians into paying additional contributions for a health system for which they are already taxed. 

"It goes against the basic Australian principle of giving everyone a fair go by slugging tax payers twice."

GPs doing "dirty work" of government

In 2014 the Government was lambasted by medical and consumer interests, academia, research and other health bodies over the $7 Medicare co-payment announced in the 2014-15 Budget.

To kick-start 2015 the Government has decided to side-step the rejection issued by the Senate and take the funds directly from Medicare by docking the rebate paid to bulk-billing GPs and tax paying Australians for standard consultations, Moore said.

"This $5 cut is a deliberately targeted pay cut to GPs which forces them to do the dirty work the public has clearly signalled to the government that they find an unacceptable budgetary measure," he said.

"What the Government has done here is to inadvertently target tax paying Australians, such as self-funded retirees, who will now – despite contributing to Medicare … since its inception – be coughing up an additional $5 per consultation."

Professor Yeatman, President of the PHAA said: "Our GPs are being forced to do the dirty work of the government.

"Either they lose over $3 billion from their own pockets over the next three and a half years or drag it from the bulk of their patients.

"The Government has recognised that the Australian public will not stand for the most vulnerable in our community having to pay a $7 upfront fee to see a GP. However, they have failed to understand that the tax paying community believes in and has the right to an accessible, equitable and affordable health system and will fight to protect it.

"The message around this issue is clear, Australians do not want a two-tiered health system like America."