BUDGET 2014: Medical service co-payment plan 'doesn't make any sense' to doctor

BAD IDEA: chief executive officer of Western Medicare Local Dr Jenny Beange says the $7 co-payment plan to visit the doctors is a backwards step

BAD IDEA: chief executive officer of Western Medicare Local Dr Jenny Beange says the $7 co-payment plan to visit the doctors is a backwards step

THE health of the region’s most vulnerable people will suffer under the $7 co-payment plan announced in the budget, according to chief executive officer of Western Medicare Local Dr Jenny Beange.

“I have a strong view - this is unfair and I’m concerned there will be worse health outcomes for people in this region,” she said.

Dr Beange said the introduction of the new co-payment will be another barrier to struggling families.

“Particularly large families with many health and social issues - this all just doesn’t make any sense to me,” she said.

Dr Beange said she is pleased at the announcement funding from the co-payment will be directed into health research, but says it comes at a cost to the health of the Australian public.

“It shouldn’t be bankrolled by the co-payment,” she said.

Dr Beange said the savings announced in the budget are merely cost shifting and she’s not confident of good health outcomes, particularly for Aboriginal people who will be affected.

Treasurer Joe Hockey says of the $7 co-payment for a visit to the doctor, or for pathology or imaging services, $5 will go directly into the creation of the $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund, with the remaining $2 going to the provider.

“Our open and free health care system has now come to an end,” Dr Beange said.

The federal government plans to introduce the $7 patient contribution from July 1, 2015, and will also apply to previously bulk-billed patients.

janice.harris@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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