Figures obtained under Freedom of Information confirm the Abbott Government is introducing a GP Tax through stealth, via its four year freeze on General Practice.
The figures, obtained by The Australian, estimate the freeze will rip over $1.3 billion out of Medicare over the next four years.
The Health Department modelling also shows the dramatic escalation in the extent of the cuts as a result of the freeze, with the amount ripped out of Medicare doubling every year.
The AMA has warned many GPs will be unable to absorb this cost, and will be forced to raise fees, and slash bulk billing.
“If the rebates don’t rise, those costs have to be passed on in out-of-pocket expenses. We will see less bulk-billing, and there is the possibility of seeing a co-payment by stealth.”
AMA President Brian Owler, 13 May 2015
The rebate freeze would impose an up-front charge between patients and their GP, destroying Medicare’s universal health care.
The highly respected Medical Journal of Australia finds the freeze 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Even though the rebate reduction has been retracted, the freeze will have greater impact with time — nearly double the amount of the rebate reduction by 2017–18.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 copayments.
“The Cost of Freezing General Practice” Medical Journal of Australia
That 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 FOI documents confirm the rebate freeze is just the latest version of the 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.
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 Abbott Government remains committed to the GP Tax and Medicare will never be safe while Tony Abbott remains in power.