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Will patients be stung by a co-payment in hospital emergency rooms? And are sole parents at risk of a further income slug?
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01.Hospital emergency payments a possibility


Medical co-payments are back in the spotlight this morning, with speculation that government-run hospital emergency rooms may also also charge a co-payment of $7.50 for patients who present with minor ailments in order to stop patients visiting hospital instead of GPs in order to dodge the planned fee.

The West Australian is reporting that the plan will see triage doctors and nurses in emergency departments having to decide who has to pay. 

This comes after the  Consumers Health Forum of Australia (CHF) released research on the weekend conducted on 1000 consumers regarding co-payments. The research found 72% of those surveyed said the co-payment for visiting a GP will mean more people will go to emergency rooms rather than pay a doctors fee, while 69% said the fee would discourage them from seeing a GP.

Adam Stankevicius, CEO of the CHF, says the co-payments will hit chronically ill and people on low incomes the hardest and that the scheme won't generate cost savings for the health system but will add to the costs.

Parenting payments to be cut further?

National parent advocacy group The Parenthood has expressed concerns about the National Commission of Audit's recommendations for sole parents and their children.

NCoA has recommended changing the current Parenting Payment Single indexation arrangements to a new benchmark of just 25 per cent of average weekly earnings. Executive Director of The Parenthood, Fiona Sugden, says this change could leave sole parents up to $446 per fortnight worse off – more than $11,000 per year.

“Sole parents are already in a desperate struggle to financially survive and raise their children, especially after 100,000 of them were moved onto Newstart 12 months ago and they lost up to $160 a week," says Sugden.

A recent survey by The Parenthood of sole parents pushed onto Newstart found 88% were struggling to cover the cost of groceries each week, while 53% found it difficult to meet basic travel costs for their family. Three-quarters said they struggled to meet basic costs of schooling and education and that their child’s nutrition levels had suffered. 

Fuel excise offset by investment in roads

In what seems like a bid to soften voter backlash on the proposed increase in the  fuel excise, Treasurer Joe Hockey announced on the weekend that any increase in fuel excise will go towards road construction. The federal government plans to spend $40 billion on road infrastructure over the next six years, as well as being matched by a further a $42 billion in private sector and state investment.



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