One of the least easy to understand measures in the Budget framed as an “emergency” by the Government is the GP co-payment, which adds $7 to the cost of a visit to the doctor but then sends the money to a slush fund for medical research rather than funnel it into the system.
It’s a measure that has raised the ire of the public and a measure that is one of the most regressive aspects of the Budget likely to hurt the poor and needy the most as a percentage of total income.
So news today that the Australian Medical Association is opposed to the Government’s proposal for the $7 co-payment for a GP visit isn’t exactly startling.
But the AMA has done what the Government has asked of Budget critics and proposed an alternative route, putting its plan to Joe Hockey and co three weeks ago, according to the ABC.
“We were asked to come back with an alternative co-payment proposal which addressed the concerns that we had around vulnerable patients in our community,” AMA president Professor Brian Owler said.
The point Owler makes is that the money needs to stay in general practice and the Government’s plan that the money raised by the co-payment goes toward research is flawed because:
“We shouldn’t be funding tertiary level research at the expense of primary health.”
“I’ve said over and again that general practice is central to the sustainability of the health care system; it’s not the problem,” Owler said.
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