This week the Australian Medical Association joined the campaign against the Medicare cuts. The Consumer Health Forum, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) and others have expressed grave concerns about the extended Medicare rebate freeze.
Doctors, nurses and patient organisations are concerned that the sickest and most vulnerable patients will not be able to afford care, because the cuts to Medicare will push doctors to stop bulk billing. Many GP practices are preparing to introduce more fees.
So far we have seen three interesting responses from the government – none of them are very reassuring:
- The government proudly presented the record high bulkbilling rates, completely ignoring the concerns of patients and health groups.
- The government made a deal with Pathology Australia that a returned Turnbull Coalition Government will take immediate action to cut the rent multinational pathology corporations are paying for the use of facilities within GP practices. This would take even more money out of general practices.
- The Minister for Health Sussan Ley issued a warning for GPs. She said on Twitter: “GP’s beware! Labor not only cut $664m from Medicare, Bill shorten today refused to rule out doing it again.”
Here are some of the responses; they speak for themselves:
The campaign is gaining momentum. More to come soon from the RACGP, but I guess we will be seeing more spin from political parties as well. In the meantime please continue to support the campaign and don’t forget to sign Dr Riley’s rapidly growing petition here.
The patient rebate freeze will result in higher out-of-pocket-costs for patients. Australia needs accessible general practice care to keep people healthy and out of hospital.