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Pathology Australia to launch campaign against $650m funding cut

Pathology Australia will attempt to kill $650 million in cuts for diagnostic tests such as blood tests and X-rays with a consumer campaign to run in 5000 pathology collection centres across the nation.

The pathologists' lobby group, which represents big corporates such as Sonic Healthcare, said on Tuesday that it was "about to launch a consumer campaign" opposing cuts to the bulk-billing incentive for diagnostic imaging and pathology announced by Treasurer Scott Morrison in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook.

"We don't want people facing situations where they are unable to get their pap smears and their life-savings blood test," said Pathology Australia chief executive Liesel Wett.

"We want people to be able to access the expert opinions of pathologists for cancer diagnosis without having to worry about the costs. If patients have to pay, they may think twice about getting their tests. This will cost the health system more in the long term."

The health sector reacted fiercely to the proposed last year. The Australian Medical Association, which lobbies on behalf of doctors, threatened last year to wage a grass roots political campaign against the cuts.

Health Minister Sussan Ley told Fairfax Media at the time that government funding is not a guaranteed revenue stream for business and said that strained budgets call for prioritising spending.

The AMA's public opposition was very damaging to the Abbott government's plan to introduce a $7 GP co-payment, and the Turnbull government may face a similar test.

Large pathology and imaging providers such as Sonic, Primary Health Care, Integral Diagnostics, and Capitol Health have all signalled their intent to charge co-payments to recoup the fee cut.