Local Brisbane GP and Vice President of the Doctors Reform Society, Dr Tracy Schrader has called on Dr Bill Glasson, LNP candidate for the seat of Griffith, to a debate on his support for mandatory copayments on GP visits.
“This will be the end of Medicare” said Dr Schrader.
“The government and Dr Glasson believing a $6 copayment is affordable are living in a different world. These costs add up and most of my patients have difficulties already affording medication and other care. This will be another deterrent in seeking care.” concluded Dr Schrader. “This won’t just stop at $6 either. These fees escalate”
“Price signals do not work in health care. This is not cups of coffee or luxury items you’re dealing with here. This is people’s lives and health. People don’t need to be hit with a financial hammer when seeking care. Preventative care, screening and chronic illness management will all be impacted,” Dr Schrader said “and down the line more illness that could have been dealt with more efficiently in the primary care setting.”
“Who determines what’s ‘affordable’ or who’s the ‘most vulnerable’? Most of us are all vulnerable in different ways at some time. Isn’t the taxation office the best place to determine who should pay what and not the doctor’s surgery where we sometimes do feel vulnerable? Free at the point of service is a fundamental principle of universal health care and Medicare. This will only create bureaucratic chaos and won’t save money. It will be more costs for the sick and less well off and less tax for the wealthy.” said Dr Schrader. “Yes, Dr Glasson, if you can afford to pay you should pay – through your taxes.”
“Doctors fees always blow out after the introduction of copayments. Bulk billing has been a cost constraint on doctors fees. Compare the cost to see a GP ($36/$72) with the fees private specialists charge often around $300 plus. Dr Glasson as a private ophthalmologist should be well aware of this. It is the thin edge of the wedge. The death of Medicare Dr Glasson claims to support.” said Dr Schrader.
“Is Dr Glasson also supportive of the proposal of extending the copayment to public hospital emergency departments to “stop the rush of Medicare patients to the state hospital ‘free’ ED”?” asked Dr Schrader. “Introducing a copayment in emergency departments would create an administrative nightmare. The practicalities are almost unthinkable. Who collects and when? Would you be sent a bill if unable to pay at the time? Would debt collectors be sent after people unable to pay? Remember back in the early seventies before Medibank/Medicare, failure to pay medical bills was the main reason for imprisonment for debt in South Australia. And then there’s interference with administrating care. The so-called frontline services the government proclaims to want to protect.”
“Dr Glasson is the endorsed LNP candidate for the Griffith by-election. He and the government have to come out and tell the Australian people exactly where they stand on this. Medicare is an issue at the heart of the Australian people. Why wasn’t such an important policy issue raised prior to the last federal election? Is it bad policy on the run or is there more to it?” said Dr Schrader. “I call on Dr Glasson to a public debate on this issue so the people of Griffith have the opportunity to make an informed decision prior to the by-election.”
(Dr Tracy Schrader also lives in the seat of Griffith)