Labor’s spokesperson for Rural and Regional Health Stephen Jones MP today called on National Party MPs and Senators to join with Labor in rejecting Tony Abbott’s reworked GP Tax.
This version of the GP Tax will be a disaster for regional Australians and will threaten the viability of regional general practices.
Before the election, the Nationals promised:
“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
Instead, they’ve sat by meekly while Tony Abbott has ripped billions out of their hospitals and sought to slash Medicare rebates and increase charges on patients.
Apart from breaking faith with the Australian people yet again, this reboot of the GP Tax will be even worse for patients in rural and regional areas.
- Lower rates of bulk billing in regional areas mean regional patients already pay more to access primary care.
- It penalises the most efficient part of the health system, GPs and Medicare, which act to prevent people needing more expensive care in hospitals.
- It threatens the viability of many regional practices. For instance the loss of indexation and the changes to a level B consult will mean a GP managing a patient’s leg ulcer will receive $32.05 however, materials used to dress the leg ulcer and other practice overheads such as wages, rents and equipment will mean a less viable practice for regional and remote GPs.
If the Nationals really do want to stand up for people in rural and regional areas, they will join with Labor in rejecting Tony Abbott’s GP Tax.