Government’s new co-payment model a ‘mixed bag’
AMA President, A/Prof Brian Owler, said on Tuesday this week 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 led the debate on the unfairness of the Government’s original co-payment model since Budget night and has been calling for protection for the poor, the elderly, the chronically ill, and Indigenous Australians.
“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,” A/Prof Owler said.
“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,” A/Prof Owler said.
The AMA has this week been examining the finer detail of the Government’s announcement to fully gauge the impact on patients and on medical practices.