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AMA President, A/Prof Brian Owler, Sydney Adventist Hospital Doorstop, 23 September 2014

23 Sep 2014

Transcript: AMA President, A/Prof Brian Owler, Sydney Adventist Hospital Doorstop, 23 September 2014

Subject: Federal Government health funding; GP co-payment; $5 cut to Medicare rebate

BRIAN OWLER: Well, thank you for coming out. What I want to talk about today is the report that's been released by the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare. What the report actually says, and it shows very clearly, is that Government expenditure, in particular, has actually been falling in real terms and so, we've seen over the past 12 months or at least the 12 months, 2012 and 2013, the lowest growth in health care expenditure for the past decade. In real terms it's only been 1.5 per cent, and what that does is really make a mockery of the fact that the Government's been claiming that health care expenditure is out of control.

What we've seen is that actually health care expenditure has actually been contracting in terms of growth, and we've also seen that more money's been put - or cost has been put back towards patients, rather than the Government, so the Government is shifting costs away from themselves and back to patients in terms of out-of-pocket expenditure. Now, the Government's used this as a narrative in terms of the lead-up to its Federal Budget, saying that health care expenditure is out of control, and it's used that to justify the introduction of the GP co-payment. Now, there is no justification for a GP co-payment, let alone the cut, the $5 put on the table by the Government. They continue to try and horse trade with the crossbenchers to get their changes through the Senate. They asked the AMA to come back with an alternative proposal, which we did, which protected vulnerable patients, invested in general practice, but actually asked for a co-payment - a modest co-payment - from those people that could afford to pay. But they were not interested in that compromise, it seems. So, so far, we have not seen any shift in the Government or acknowledgement of the very … significant impact that this poor proposal is going to have for the health care of Australians.

Thank you very much.


 23 September 2014


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Published: 23 Sep 2014