09 December 2014
FEDERAL Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce said the Government has listened to community concern and welcomed the proposed changes to the Medicare co-payment.
Mr Joyce said he recently met with representatives of GP practices in Tamworth who were concerned with the co-payment proposal.
“I said I would do my very best to see what we could do to change some of the issues they bought forward to me,” he said.
“I think it’s important to say to people we really do go in to bat, we do try and we do actually get changes. Not every time but when we do we should acknowledge it.
“What this means now the co-payment can be paid by those who can afford to pay it and it won’t have to be paid by those who can’t.”
Mr Joyce said the changes will mean the Medicare rebate for common consultations will be reduced by $5 only for non-concessional patients over the age of 16.
The Government will not impose a co-payment on GP services provided to pensioners, Commonwealth concession card holders, all children under 16, veterans funded through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, attendances at residential aged care facilities and pathology and diagnostic imaging services.
Incentives paid to doctors to encourage them to bulk bill concession card holders and children under the age of 16 will also remain. Some doctors may continue to bulk-bill their non-concessional patients; others may seek to recoup some or all of the $5 rebate reduction.
Doctors will be under no obligation to charge the co-payment and this decision will be entirely at their discretion.
Other changes to the Medicare rebate schedule would encourage doctors to spend more time with patients.
“Addressing the issue of ‘six minute medicine’ by encouraging doctors to spend more time with patients will mean better health outcomes for patients,” Mr Joyce said.
Mr Joyce said the new package ensured the Government could make Medicare sustainable and ensure Australians continued to have access to affordable world class healthcare.