I am deeply disappointed patients in Ballan are being forced to pay the price of Tony Abbott’s GP Tax.
The decision by the Ballan District Health Centre to charge some patients a fee of $26 each time they visit the doctor at the clinic from September 1 is entirely due to Tony Abbott’s four year freeze on Medicare rebates.
It confirms the freeze is just another form of the GP Tax, aimed at forcing patients to pay an upfront fee to visit their GP.
I welcome the fact that children, pensioners and others with a health concession card and in particular patients with long term complex health needs will continue to be bulk billed in Ballan.
But make no mistake, the decision to cut bulk billing and hike gap payments is due entirely to Tony Abbott’s four year freeze on Medicare rebates for GPs.
This is far from an isolated decision, and my office has received a number of emails about practices informing patients they can no longer afford to bulk bill, hitting patients, many of them concession card holders or people with chronic conditions, with fees of up to $20 or $30.
In areas where it is not possible to levy fees, practices have been forced to take more drastic action and shut.
Just like the original GP Tax, the rebate freeze imposes an up-front charge between patients and their GP, destroying Medicare’s universal health care, precisely as the Abbott Government intended.
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.
Health Minister Sussan Ley, 3AW, 3 March 2015
At the same time, public hospitals are reporting near record numbers of patients, as people are increasingly seek to dodge out of cost payments by swamping Emergency Departments.
The rebate freeze confirms 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.