WE SAY: Government on a loser with GP co-payment plan
OUR VIEW: THE Federal Government should dump its plan to introduce a co-payment for patient visits to GPs.
Despite a suggestion by the Australian Medical Association that a co-payment be restricted to those most able to afford it, the health care issue has become too mired by lack of consultation with key groups, and the perception that quiet deals are being done inside and outside parliament. On top of that, peak bodies like the Australian Council of Social Service are still opposed to any co-payment, saying it would be damaging to the community.
The government's Budget plan had been simple - a $7 up-front payment for GP vis
its, with the extra money to go to a "future fund" for medical research.
But it drew the ire of pensioners and other disadvantaged groups, as well as doctors who said they could not accept the plan because they would lose $5 for each visit.
AMA president Brian Owler said on Tuesday: "There's a misconception that … the AMA is in there wheeling and dealing … we were never going to trade anything." He said his organisation was concerned about vulnerable groups, but that general practice was "central to the health system - it's not the problem". Yet the AMA proposed a limited $6.15 co-payment plan.
No matter what happens now, it is looking increasingly like the government cannot win with it.