Healthy call: Local GPs welcome $5 co-payment axing

Friday, August 24, 2018

Sussan LeyMILDURA GPs have welcomed the Federal Government’s decision to scrap its controversial Medicareco-p­ayment­ proposal.

Health Minister Sussan Ley yesterday confirmed the government had “hit the pause button” on changes to the public healthcare system.

During Question Time in Parliament, Prime Minister Tony Abbott reiterated the hugely unpopular proposal to charge patients a $5 co-payment when they visited their GP was “dead, buried and cremated”.

Tristar Medical Group GP Afshan Shariff said the arrangement would have put an “unnecessary burden” on people who were already struggling to cover daily living expenses.

“For patients who come in on a regular basis, with chronic disease or disability, it was too much for them to pay every visit,” she said.

“I think most of GPs would be happy that’s been axed.

“I have some patients on Centrelink payments who are taking medication and can’t afford it – they say, ‘I can’t be taking it until my next (Centrelink) payment’.

“That is really sad to see. So if there was a co-payment, I fear they won’t even be coming to see us.”

The co-payment proposal was part of the government’s budget measures introduced last year to reduce the nation’s debt and deficit.

It was contested by the Opposition,­ the Greens and cross-benchers­ in the Senate, leading to the original $7 co-payment being reduced to $5.

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