AMA model protects vulnerable patients from co-payment pain

21 Aug 2014

AMA President, A/Prof Brian Owler, this week called on the Government to dump its seriously flawed GP co-payments proposal and adopt the AMA model, which exempts the most vulnerable patients from extra cost burdens for their health care.

A/Prof Owler said the AMA has vigorously opposed the Government’s proposal since Budget night and has worked to produce an alternative model that is fairer and more equitable.

“Our model is based on the realities of day-to-day medical practice, and our objective is to provide higher quality primary care for all Australians.

“The AMA co-payment model protects vulnerable patients in the community, values general practice to encourage quality care and support prevention and chronic disease management, and it also sends a price signal for non-concession patients.

“We propose a minimum $6.15 co-payment (which aligns with the current bulk billing incentive) that applies to all patients, but the Government will pay the co-payment for concession card holders and patients under 16 years of age.

“Under our model, there will be no cut to the Medicare patient rebate, and there is an incentive for general practices to collect the co-payment.

“The AMA co-payment model allows GPs the opportunity to spend more time with their patients, provide preventive health care and chronic disease management, and place a value on the essential service they provide.

“It maximises the benefits of high quality primary care in general practice, keeping people well, and keeping people out of more expensive hospital care.

“We are confident that our co-payment model will stimulate robust debate in the community, in the political arena, and in the health sector, and remind the Government of the unfairness, inequity, and electoral unpopularity of its Budget co-payment proposals,” A/Prof Owler said.

At a meeting held in Canberra this week, United General Practice Australia (UGPA) was pleased the AMA’s alternate model places quality in general practice at its centre and supports the foundation principles of:

  • No cuts to Medicare Benefit Schedule (MBS) patient rebates for general practice, pathology and imaging services
  • The need to protect vulnerable patients, including children to ensure timely and clinically appropriate access to general practice services at no detriment to the general practitioner
  • Improving the value patients place on general practice services, recognising it is reasonable for those with appropriate means to share in the costs of accessing general practice care.

According to UGPA, the alternate model addresses many of the concerns raised by the general practice profession and consumer groups.

Full media release