Diabetes sufferers at risk with cruel GP Tax

diabetes_infgraphic.jpgMr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (13:48): Last week in this place I asked the Prime Minister a question about the one million Australians who suffer from diabetes. I pointed out that someone diagnosed with the disease must visit the GP every week for a number of months and then at least four times a year. I asked the Prime Minister whether he could confirm that this patient would be billed using the GP consultation item B23 and whether the GP tax would apply? Of course, I received no answer.

This was quite some surprise to those on this side of the House because in the last 12 months alone almost 100,000 people were newly registered on the National Diabetes Services Scheme. Diabetes is one of the top 10 causes of death in Australia. It has a mass of complications that affect the patient's feet, their eyes, their kidneys and cardiovascular health. Nerve damage affects 13 per cent of diabetics; eye damage another 15 per cent. It is now the leading cause of end-stage kidney disease. Any one of these complications would drive a diabetic to their GP and pathologist multiple times each year, if not once or twice a month.

In my electorate alone almost two per cent above the national average suffer from diabetes. It is not a wealthy electorate—over 92 per cent of population are bulk billed. These are the people who can least afford the tax. The government has turned its back on them. (Time expired)