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AMA President, A/Prof Brian Owler, ABC News PM, Mark Colvin, 12 June 2014

13 Jun 2014

Transcript AMA President, A/Prof Brian Owler, ABC News PM, Mark Colvin, 12 June 2014

Subject: Federal Budget

MARK COLVIN: The Treasurer's insistence that his budget is fair has failed to convince the Australian Medical Association.

The AMA heavily criticised Joe Hockey and his economic plan today.

Political correspondent Louise Yaxley reports.

LOUISE YAXLEY: But tellingly for the Government, the new president of the Australian Medical Association, Brian Owler, is also highly critical of the proposals in the budget, including the copayment.

BRIAN OWLER: If a copayment is introduced, then it's going to put increased pressure on people's finances, particularly those most disadvantaged in our society.

It's going to mean that there are less people accessing GP services to address the issues like obesity, address the issues such as diabetes, and that's something that as a society I think we can't afford. 

GPs are the answers to the sustainability of the healthcare system, they're not the problem. Many of our doctors already charge copayments. The AMA is not against copayments per se, but what we don't support is the current budget proposal where we see the most vulnerable in our society subjected to at least 10 copayments, and that's going to have impacts on preventative healthcare, chronic disease management, and those in our society that can least afford it.

So until we saw the budget, like everyone else, we didn't see how many people would be affected by the copayment and the fact that so many of the most vulnerable in our society would be affected.

LOUISE YAXLEY: He says Mr Hockey doesn't understand the implications of the budget.

BRIAN OWLER: The arguments that the Treasurer is putting up are not necessarily consistent. This is very much driven by, I think, an ideological approach about our healthcare system. 

LOUISE YAXLEY: And Dr Owler has also criticised the Government's proposal to use $5 of the $7 copayment for a $20 billion research fund.

BRIAN OWLER: So I understand the problems with research and the AMA very much supports extra funding for research, but yes, taking money out of the primary healthcare system and putting it into tertiary level research is not the answer to the sustainability of the healthcare system.

To think that, as the Treasurer said, that we're going to solve the sustainability of the healthcare system with this medical research future fund by coming up with a whole bunch of cures for the diseases that affect us today so that people won't have to go to hospital, won't have to see their GP, I think, you know, is a step out of the reality of what happens in research.

Research is the hard grind that is the international piece of work where the progress is slow, it's hard-fought and it's something that's not going to solve the sustainability of the healthcare system in Australia with this proposal.

MARK COLVIN: The president of the AMA Dr Brian Owler ending Louise Yaxley's report.


13 June 2014


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Published: 13 Jun 2014