The Prime Minister today confirmed his GP Tax will stop patients getting crucial diagnostic imaging services, despite the potentially disastrous consequences for the health of patients.
Asked in Question Time by the Leader of the Opposition if he was aware that there would be around 680,000 fewer diagnostic imaging services in 2015-16 and almost one million fewer by 2017 as a result of his GP Tax Mr Abbott responded “the short answer is yes and yes”.
According to the Australian Diagnostic Imaging Association (ADIA), the combined impact of these Budget changes will force many general patients to pay $90 upfront for every x-ray, $380 for every CAT scan, up to $160 for every mammogram and $190 for every ultrasound. For those unfortunate enough to need a PET scan the upfront cost could be as high as $1,000
Even after receiving their Medicare rebate, patients could be left with out of pocket cost of up to $160 for every scan.
Mr Abbott has today confirmed that when announcing the GP Tax, he was well aware that for many general patients those sorts of costs will be unaffordable and they will be forced to skip crucial tests and treatments.
Those who do miss important scans are likely to get sicker, require even more extensive treatment, and end up costing the health system much, much more.
As the AMA warns, for a woman who misses a scan because they can’t afford it, only to have the lump on her breast later diagnosed as malignant “that could be the difference between life and death”.
Mr Abbott further exposed his complete ignorance about the damage his Budget is doing to patients by falsely insisting that “the same support will be in place for doctors who charge a $7 co-payment, as is currently in place for those who bulk bill patients.”
For example, because of the GP Tax a doctor in a rural area who charges the $7 will now only receive the low gap incentive of $6.20, whereas they currently receive $9.
It follows his blunders yesterday when Mr Abbott repeatedly, and falsely insisted that the GP Tax was the only new charge for patients, ignoring the fact that the Budget also contains:
– A 10 – 15 per cent cut in the rebate for diagnostic imaging services due to the scrapping of the bulk billing incentive
– The scrapping of the Greatest Permissible Gap, which subsidised high cost services like PET and CAT scans
Mr Abbott’s performance today confirms the GP Tax is a disaster for health, and a disaster for the Budget.