Minister for Health Sussan Ley has labelled her ongoing consultations with GPs and their representative groups about protecting Medicare for the long-term “positive”, with “many constructive ideas put on the table” to date.
Ms Ley, who is holding meetings and forums with a broad range of health stakeholders in Brisbane today, said no deadline on her consultations had been set “to ensure I can get a truly representative view from health professionals and patients at the coalface, as well as their member groups”.
She therefore also rejected claims about alleged deadlines on policy decisions.
“I am currently travelling the country listening carefully to GPs and patients and taking the opportunity to have frank and fearless discussions about constructive ways to protect Medicare for the long term,” Ms Ley said.
“We have clear guiding principles for these consultations around the need to maintain high-quality care and treatment and ensuring bulk billing remains for vulnerable and concessional patients.
“However, official Medicare figures also show 72 per cent of services provided to non-concessional patients were currently being bulk billed.
“I am therefore continuing to discuss the importance of ensuring that those who have the means to do so should be able to make a modest contribution towards the cost of their care and treatment.”
Ms Ley said the Government proposed to achieve this through a modest $5 optional co-payment, with exclusions to protect concession card holders, veterans and children.
However, Ms Ley said the very nature of consultation meant she was naturally seeking feedback from health professionals, patients and parliamentary members from all parties on a broad range of issues and topics.
“This is a genuine consultation effort on Medicare reform and I am going in with open eyes and ears open to ensure we get the best outcomes for patients and health professionals alike.”