The Abbott Government’s claims the GP Tax is dead have again been exposed as a lie with the CEO of Primary Health Care confirming the government’s four year freeze on doctor’s rebates will lead to a GP Tax by stealth.
Peter Gregg has told Fairfax Newspapers “if the government does not remove its freeze on rebates paid to doctors, bulkbilling GPs will be forced to charge a co-payment to cover their costs.”
Mr Gregg’s remarks backs up research published last month in the highly respected Medical Journal of Australia.
"Even though the rebate reduction has been retracted, the freeze will have greater impact with time — nearly double the amount of the rebate reduction by 2017–18.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 copayments."
“The Cost of Freezing General Practice” Medical Journal of Australia
In a separate article, the authors of the study noted, the shortfall will leave GPs $8.43 worse off.
"That’s a bigger shortfall than the now-abandoned A$5 rebate cut – and is likely to prompt many GPs to start charging a co-payment."
“High cost of GP rebate freeze may see co-payments rise from the dead”
The Conversation, 23 March 2015
Mr Gregg’s comments confirm what Labor has repeatedly warned. 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.
As Health Minister Sussan Ley made clear earlier this month, she is committed to forcing down bulk billing by making 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."
Sussan Ley, 3AW, 3 March 2015
In Question Time earlier this year the minister confirmed that the government is looking at achieving this by changing Medicare legislation to allow what is being referred to as “direct billing”.
“Direct billing” would allow bulk-billed patients to be also charged ever increasing gap payments.
It would impose an up-front charge between patients and their GP, destroying Medicare’s universal health care.
All that’s changed is the language.
“Co-payment”, “price signal”, “value signal” or “direct billing”, it doesn’t matter what the government calls it, the end result is still the same – it’s still a GP Tax, it’s still an attack on Medicare, and patients are still being hit for more.