It’s official Prime Minister – your GP Tax and PBS hikes are a disaster and must be scrapped.
In a damning report, the Senate Inquiry into Out of Pocket Expenses in Australian Healthcare has recommended both the GP Tax and hikes in PBS prices be scrapped.
6.20 The committee recommends that the Government should not proceed with further co-payments.
The inquiry heard from health experts and professionals about the harm the GP Tax and PBS hikes would cause to patients, GPs and to the long term health budget.
Instead of containing health costs and making Medicare sustainable, the inquiry heard the GP Tax would actually exacerbate health problems and lead to even greater costs blowouts down the track.
“…rather than discourage ‘over-servicing’ and reducing the number of ‘unnecessary visits’, the introduction of co-payments would have a negative impact on consumers’ ability to access necessary primary health care services.”
“The RACGP observed that there is no economic benefit in dissuading patients from seeing their GP: In fact, there is good evidence to suggest that there is a negative economic impact with patients using more expensive health care through the hospital system that could be delivered by general practice at a fraction of the cost.”
The Australian College of Nurse Practitioners warned the GP Tax would add to the pressure on already overstretched Public Hospital Emergency Departments.
“Specifically, patients who either cannot afford or who wish to avoid the co-payment will use the ED [emergency department], as their first point of contact, for their healthcare.”
The inquiry also heard distressing testimony that the GP Tax and PBS hikes would force patients to make terrible choices between food, heating and their health.
“For many families the cost of health care simply means going without health care.”
In its most damning finding, the inquiry flatly rejected the Abbott Government’s entire argument for the GP tax, rejecting the argument that there needs to be barrier between patients and visits to the doctor to make Medicare sustainable.
“..there was limited evidence to suggest there is over-servicing in primary healthcare. In fact, there is evidence to suggest that in some areas and communities there is significant under-servicing.
“The committee is concerned that imposing an additional co-payment will make it even harder for individuals, particularly vulnerable groups, to access primary health care.
“Deferring seeking medical treatment may impact not only on an individuals’ access to health but may also affect other parts of the health system whereby primary health visits are redirected into the public hospital system.”
The jury is in. The GP Tax and PBS hikes are bad for patients, bad for healthcare and bad for the Budget and should be scrapped.