Millions of patients are set to be hit with a GP Tax even bigger than the original proposal, with the 2015 Budget confirming the Abbott Government is committed to a four year freeze on Medicare rebates.
The fundamental unfairness of last year’s Budget disaster continues.
The rebate freeze is just the latest version of the unfair GP Tax which has seen the Government attempt to slug patients with a $7 fee, a $5 fee a $20 fee and now an $8.43 fee through the back door.
The freeze will rip $1.3 billion out of general practice over the next four years, a move the highly respected Medical Journal of Australia finds could lead to even higher charges than the original GP Tax.
Even though the rebate reduction has been retracted, the freeze will have greater impact with time — nearly double the amount of the rebate reduction by 2017–18. For economic reasons, the freeze may still force GPs who currently bulk bill to charge co-payments.
“The Cost of Freezing General Practice” Medical Journal of Australia
The study found that by 2017/18, the shortfall will leave GPs $8.43 worse off, forcing many doctors to charge patients who are currently bulk billed, and increase gap payments for other patients.
The rebate freeze would impose an upfront charge between patients and their GP, attacking Medicare and destroying its most important principle, universal access.
As the Minister has made clear, the Abbott Government is committed to forcing more patients pay to see a doctor.
there are a lot of people who attend a doctor, who pay nothing who can afford to pay a bit more and that's where we have to land in this discussion with the medical profession.
Health Minister Sussan Ley, 3AW, 3 March 2015
The Assistant Treasurer backed this up yesterday declaring he was “very proud” of last year’s disastrous and unfair Budget and lamented that the GP Tax was blocked by Labor because “there would have been big savings and it’s unfortunate”.
The Budget confirms Tony Abbott’s promise that the GP Tax is dead is as believable as his promises before the election of no new taxes and no cuts to health.
The Budget’s attack on health through a backdoor GP Tax is short sighted, unfair and threatens the future of universal healthcare.