Doctor: co-payment is a full frontal attack
FAMILIES, pensioners and the country at large held their breath as Treasurer Joe Hockey announced patients would be slugged with a $7 co-payment for GP visits, plus an extra $5-7 for blood tests, medical imaging and prescriptions.
The fee has been justified by the government as a way to raise funds for a $20 billion medical research fund.
GP and vice chair of Medicare Local in Emerald Dr Ewen McPhee said "the Government has made a full frontal attack on general practice, the front door of the health system".
"What the Government has done is reduce the income of a GP by 25% and tried to make up the difference with a patient co-payment of $7," Dr McPhee said.
"GPs cannot afford a 25% cut to income and this will destroy bulk billing as an option, especially for financially disadvantaged, healthcare card holders, the disabled, children and healthcare card holders.
"It may well be likely those that cannot afford the $7 co-payment and added-on costs will have to seek care at the local hospital, placing further burden on the public health system."
Dr McPhee said the opportunities for real savings in the health sector had been missed.
"There is tremendous waste in the system," he said.
"Some specialist procedures are significantly overpriced when compared to other countries... this has not been touched in the budget yet GPs suffer a 25% loss of income."