LOCAL doctors and nurses have slammed the federal government’s controversial proposed Medicare co-payment, claiming it would unfairly discriminate against rural patients under financial strain.
The criticism comes in the wake of the government’s own coalition MPs Alex Hawke, George Christensen and Senator Ian McDonald calling for the government to exempt pensioners from the $7 trip to the doctor.
NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association branch secretary for Tamworth Hospital Jill Telfer said the nurses’ union had “grave concerns” of moving to a user-pays health system.
“We’re very concerned with the idea of changing our medicare to a user-pay system – we’re working very hard to lobby against those changes,” Ms Telfer said.
She explained the $7 co-payment would be a disincentive for people to access health services, and would
prove detrimental to those suffering chronic illnesses and the financially disadvantaged.
“They may chose not to go to the doctor, which means they will have worse health outcomes and in the long term it’s actually going to add to the burden.”
“We have a good system. We would like to preserve it.”
President of the Rural Doctors Association of Australia and local doctor Ian Kamerman said the co-payment would compound difficulties already faced by rural and remote Australians in accessing medical services.
“Country Australians will cop a severe double-hit should a blanket co-payment be introduced.”
“Rural and remote Australia has some of the poorest and most disadvantaged people in the country, coupled with high rates of chronic disease and ongoing difficulties for many in accessing local healthcare services.
“Many of our patients are extremely concerned that, should the co-payment be introduced, a visit to the doctor will simply be out of reach for them and their children.”