Abbott must ‘come clean’ on GP fee plan

As the Abbott Government attempts to broker a secret deal with the Australian Medical Association (AMA) on the proposed GP co-payment, all other health organisations are watching in disbelief, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) said today.

ANMF Federal Secretary, Lee Thomas, said it is deeply disturbing that nurses and midwives, along with other health professionals and importantly, Australian health consumers, have been excluded as the Department of Health analyses alternate modelling for the Government’s co-payments scheme in consultation with only one group, the AMA.

Ms Thomas said: “GP and other services provided by doctors comprise just one part of a multifaceted, complex system. The Government’s efforts to secure support for their proposed co-payment through these clandestine consultations with the AMA are short-sighted. They fail to comprehend the breadth of Australia’s health services and the wide range of settings in which they are delivered.

“A compromise deal may bring some benefit to some doctors, though many remain strongly opposed, but there will be no benefit for patients, the health system or the budget. Any compromise on co-payments will destroy Medicare, our taxpayer funded health insurance scheme and shift us from ‘universal coverage to universal fees’.

“Even a ‘watered down’ co-payment will lead to people not getting the care they need, with nurses and midwives, as always, doing their best to treat the ever-increasing number of everyday Australians turning up at hospital emergency departments (ED) because they couldn’t afford to see a doctor.

“On an issue as fundamental to our society as the dismantling of Medicare, it is deeply unhealthy for Government to rely on the advice of just one voice for the sake of political gain at the expense of the health of our nation.

“As the country’s largest health union, the ANMF demands that the Government comes clean about its negotiations with the AMA and commences genuine consultation with all health groups and all consumers.“

With the first of the series of co-payments scheduled to be debated in the Senate next week, the ANMF has again urged Senators to reject Mr Abbott’s devastating health Budget “for the sake of all Australians”.

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