Revised co-payment plan astute, but hardly visionary

By The Canberra Times
Updated April 23 2018 - 11:19pm, first published December 10 2014 - 6:45pm

Tony Abbott characterised the abandonment of the $7 Medicare GP co-payment plan on Tuesday as an example of his government "listening, learning and improving" – which was correct in a sense. The co-payment had been widley criticised as iniquitous and likely to lead to cost-shifting within the health system. Indeed, so unpopular was it that virtually all the minor parties and independents in the Senate opposed its introduction. But now, having cut the Medicare rebate for bulk-billed GP visits instead (and exempted pensioners, children under the age of 16, veterans and concession card-holders from being charged an extra $5 by doctors looking to recoup the rebate cut) the government may just have convinced the Senate's crossbenchers to reconsider their opposition. In fact, the government will be able to implement the rebate reduction by regulation alone, but given the Senate's power to disallow regulatory changes like this, additional support for the new co-payment is essential.

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