01.GPs to churn through patients: AMA
Doctors will be forced to spend less time with patients to make up for the shortfall in their incomes as a result of the proposed $7 co-payment, the new president of the Australian Medical Association (AMA), Brian Owler, has warned.
The comments were published on the Sydney Morning Herald website this morning, with Owler concerned that the introduction of the co-payment could reduce the quality of care delivered, particularly in poorer communities.
In disadvantaged areas where a large proportion of patients can’t afford the co-payment, Owler warns, GPs would be faced with pressure to continue bulk-billing. However, GPs who continue to bulk-bill will be $11 worse off per consultation. So, he argues, in order to absorb the hit to their incomes, GPs would see more patients.
"Instead of doing six-minute medicine, they'll go to four-minute medicine," Owler told the SMH. "That's not something that we want to see happening.”
Under proposed Budget measures, there are plans to cut the Medicare rebate for GPs by $5. To make up for that loss in income, GPs are being encouraged to charge a $7 co-payment fee. In addition, the $6 incentive doctors currently receive when they bulk-bill will only be given if they charge the $7 co-payment, and only when the patient is a child or concession cardholder.
The AMA has vowed to fight the $7 co-payment.