Prof Dennis Pashen from the Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA) said today the cumulative effect of the government’s changes to Medicare “could ultimately affect access to services; the ability of communities to recruit and retain doctors; and the sustainability of rural practices.”
We already know that people living outside the metropolitan areas have worse health outcomes, pay more for care and have poorer access to health services than people in the major cities. The government’s GP Tax will only make it worse.
The RDAA has today admitted that the so-called “optional” GP Tax will simply see rural doctors pass on the increased costs to patients, which will provide another barrier to accessing quality primary health care for regional patients.
Introducing the GP Tax through the back door by cutting the Medicare Rebate, is a double-whammy for the bush, firstly, it breaks a solemn promise put in writing to regional Australians before the last election:
“The Nationals will provide increased financial support for doctors who provide health services in regional and remote locations through increased Medicare Rebates and scheduled fees”
The Nationals, Our Plan for Regional Australia, p45
Secondly, and as the RDAA have confirmed, it will result in less sustainable GP practices, higher costs and poorer access for regional patients.