Government’s new co-payment model a ‘mixed bag’
AMA President, A/Prof Brian Owler, said today that the Government’s reworked co-payment model is a mixed bag, with welcome exemptions for vulnerable patients but concerns remain about cuts to the Medicare patient rebate.
A/Prof Owler said the AMA has been calling for protection for the poor, the elderly, the chronically ill, and Indigenous Australians – and this has been delivered with the new co-payment model.
“The AMA has led the debate on the unfairness of the Government’s original co-payment model since Budget night, and the Government has today addressed a number of our concerns,” A/Prof Owler said.
“We are pleased that concession card holders, children under 16, and residents of aged care facilities will not be subject to reduced Medicare rebates for general practitioner services.
“And we are happy that there will be no changes to Medicare rebates and bulk billing incentives for pathology and diagnostic imaging.
“However, we remain disappointed that rebates for GP services for everyone else will be cut by $5. This comes on top of a freeze on Medicare patient rebates until July 2018. This means that, by 2018, Medicare rebates for many services will have been frozen for almost six years, while inflation continues to rise.
“At a time when general practice is in need of significant new investment to cope with an ageing population and more people with chronic disease, today’s announcement represents a disinvestment in quality general practice.
“The Government claims it wants to ‘incentivise’ quality general practice, but it doesn't want to pay for quality general practice.
“The AMA will examine the finer detail of today’s announcement to fully gauge the impact on patients and on medical practices,” A/Prof Owler said.
The AMA Council of General Practice (AMACGP) will discuss the revised co-payment model tomorrow evening.
9 December 2014
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Published: 09 Dec 2014