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AMA in the News – 22 December 2014

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Your AMA has been active on policy and in the media on a range of issues crucial to making our health system better. Below is a snapshot of recent media coverage.Print/Online

PM cuts GP rebate; $5 fee on the cards, The Age, 10 December 2014
For some patients, the Medicare rebate paid to doctors will be reduced by $5 per consultation, leaving it up to individual GPs to recover the loss through a new patient charge. An AMA source described the plan to shift responsibility for cost recovery to GPs as payback.

Healthcare savings ‘to see patients pick up the bill’, The Australian, 10 December 2014
Health consumer advocates have warned that bulk-billing rates will fall and patients will inevitably pay for the government’s Medicare savings. AMA President A/Professor Brian Owler said the AMA remains disappointed that rebates for GP services for some patients will be cut by $5.

Manus death raises serious care questions: AMA, The Australian, 10 December 2014
The AMA has expressed serious concerns about the nature and timeliness of medical treatment given to dying Manus Island asylum seeker Hamid Kehazaei. AMA Vice President Dr Stephen Parnis said Mr Kehazaei’s treatment raised serious questions about the treatment of asylum seekers in Australia’s detention network.                                                                 

Longer freeze will leave GPs in the cold, The Australian, 10 December 2014 2014
Health groups welcome a belated decision to protect vulnerable patients and crucial test from a reworked medical co-payment. But AMA Vice President Dr Stephen Parnis said the Government was still expecting doctors to do the heavy lifting, with the current Medicare freeze extended for five and half years, while inflation continued to march on.

Co-payment will hit bulk-billing, AMA head Owler predicts, Sydney Morning Herald, 11 December 2014
Many medical practices will shift from bulk billing to charging patients the full cost of their visit in advance, in response to the Government’s proposed GP co-payment. AMA President A/Professor Brian Owler said the combination of a rebate cut and prolonged indexation freeze would force GPs to rethink their business models.

Hunger strike asylum seeker close to critical, The Age, 15 December 2014
An Iranian asylum seeker is 43 days into a hunger strike as the Immigration Department tries to force him to return voluntarily to Iran or stay in detention indefinitely. The AMA guidelines advised doctors to respect the wishes of people who have made an informed and voluntary judgement to refuse food.

Medicare shift: $100 doctor visits by 2016, Sun Herald, 14 December 2014
The average up-front cost of a 15 minute consultation with a GP could exceed $100 within two years under the government’s proposed changes to Medicare. AMA President A/Professor Brian Owler said the increasing gap between the rebates and the cost of running clinics would prompt some doctors to shift to more private billing.

AMA slams ‘wrecking ball’ plan, Australian Financial Review, 18 December 2014
The AMA has vowed to campaign against the Government’s GP co-payment plan. In a letter sent to members, AMA President A/Professor Brian Owler described the plan as a wrecking ball for general practice.               

Radio

A/Professor Brian Owler, 2UE Sydney, 6 December 2014
AMA President A/Prof Brian Owler discussed regional doctor shortages. A/Professor Owler said there are more rural clinical schools these days to provide opportunities for people to train in the country.

Dr Stephen Parnis, ABC NewsRadio, 9 December 2014
AMA Vice President Dr Stephen Parnis talked about the $7 GP co-payment being scrapped. Dr Parnis said he was pleased that the Federal Government had made a number of changes in response to AMA pressure.

A/Professor Brian Owler, ABC Canberra, 9 December 2014
AMA President A/Prof Brian Owler talked about changes announced by Prime Minister Tony Abbott to the Government’s $7 GP co-payment plan. A/Professor Owler said he was concerned by the increased onus on doctors to charge patients out-of-pocket expenses as a result of a cut to the Medicare rebate.

Dr Brian Morton, Radio National, 10 December 2014
AMA Chair of General Practice Dr Brian Morton talked about the Government’s plan to replace the GP co-payment with a $5 price signal. Dr Morton said it was good that the vulnerable were being protected from having to pay a co-payment.

Dr Stephen Parnis, 5AA Adelaide, 10 December 2014

AMA Vice President Dr Stephen Parnis talked about the Government scrapping the $7 GP co-payment and instead cutting the GP rebate by $5. Dr Parnis said GPs must maintain viable businesses, and if they feel the patient could afford the co-payment they will need to charge it.

A/Professor Brian Owler, 2HD Newcastle, 10 December 2014
AMA President A/Professor Brian Owler talked about the Federal Government’s decision to drop the $7 GP co-payment and replace it with a new model. A/Professor Owler said the AMA was pleased that vulnerable people would be excluded from the impost, but voiced concerns about the $5 cut to Medicare rebates and a long-term indexation freeze.

Television

A/Professor Brian Owler, SKY News, 4 December 2014
AMA President A/Professor Brian Owler talked about reports of a deal between the Federal Government and Clive Palmer to scrap bulk billing incentives for GPs.

Dr Brian Morton, ABC Melbourne, 9 December 2014
AMA Chair of General Practice Dr Brian Morton talked about the Government scrapping the $7 GP co-payment and giving doctors the ‘option’ of charging a fee.

Dr Stephen Parnis, Sky News, 9 December 2014
AMA Vice President Dr Stephen Parnis talked about the Government dumping the original GP co-payment model, and introducing new changes. Dr Parnis said the AMA was pleased that the vulnerable were being protected under the new model of the co-payment.

A/Professor Brian Owler, ABC News 24, 18 December 2014
AMA President A/Professor Brian Owler talked about the changes made by the Government on the GP co-payment. A/Professor Owler said GPs were angry about the changes, and criticised rebate cuts that would take money away from general practice.

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