AMA Transcript - AMA President, A/Prof Brian Owler, Parliament House Doorstop, 25 June 2014

25 Jun 2014

Transcript: AMA President, A/Prof Brian Owler, Parliament House Doorstop, 25 June 2014

Subject: GP Co-payment

BRIAN OWLER: Alright. Thank you for coming, everyone. Obviously, I just want to talk to you today about the meeting that I had with the Prime Minister new co-payment, would that mean the actual amount that those other people still included would have to pay would have to go up, as in there’d need to be a higher co-payment because there are fewer people who would be paying it compared to the Government’s…?

BRIAN OWLER: You might have to repeat that one.

QUESTION: Well, if you don’t cut the Medicare rebate, that’s how the Government was going to save its money, how is the Government going to make any savings on this? Are you prepared to wear a higher co-payment for those people who you think can afford it?

BRIAN OWLER: Well, look, as I said, I don’t think the answer is to cut the Medicare rebate. Now, I know that there is money that is – the savings are actually not going to the bottom line of the Budget. The savings are actually supposedly going to the Medical Research Future Fund. Now, taking money out of primary health care and putting it into tertiary level research is not something that we support. I mean, as a researcher myself, I very much support money going into research, but I think if the Government wants to fund research, then the money needs to go – come from another source. It shouldn’t be coming out of primary health care. Primary health care is not an area, and general practice is not an area, which is getting excess funding. It’s an area that needs to be supported to sustain our health care system.

I think one of the things that the Government wants to achieve is to send a price signal in terms of having people value their health care. And we know that our GPs support the notion that people want – they want people to value the service that they provide. So, I think that is the primary aim that we need to achieve. It’s not necessarily saving money out of general practice, because, as I said, that – as an area of expenditure, in terms of the Commonwealth, that’s not one that’s been uncontrollably growing.

QUESTION: But would you support a higher co-payment for people who could afford to pay it?

BRIAN OWLER: So, I made no statements about where the co-payment should be set. Obviously, it needs to be something that is affordable and again, doesn’t discourage people from accessing health care, but sends the right signal, that they should value the service, and also supports general practice. So what the co-payment should be, it’s one of those things that we’re going to have to work on. It’s very preliminary, and I think the take-home message from today was that the Prime Minister and Minister for Health have actually shown a willingness to work with the AMA and come up with a solution that protects vulnerable people, but supports general practice, and makes sure that we support things like preventive health care and chronic disease management.

Thank you very much.


25 June 2014


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