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Off the table

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“Off the table, gone, disappeared” – with these words, Prime Minister Tony Abbott killed off planned changes to section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, and one must applaud him on accepting the community consensus that racial and religious vilification is not on.

I am sure every fair-minded Australian wants to hear the same words uttered in regard to the $7 GP co-payment.

In the 18 months since Medicare last gave another paltry “indexation” to GP MBS rebates, the CPI has risen 4 per cent. The recent indexation of 2 per cent is rubbish. Let us face the facts.

MBS rebates shrink annually in real terms through bogus “indexation”. So why would any sane government slash even more off the patient rebate?

All Treasurers since the inception of Medicare have embraced the corrupt indexation of rebates as a way of saving huge dollars.

When I was AMA Council of General Practice Chair, I confronted several Health Ministers as to the nonsensical indexation, only to be told they fully understood but that the Treasurer welcomed the existing position and would override their arguments for reform.

It is time every medical practitioner in Australia got angry and said ‘we are not taking it any more’.

If we are to have a universal health insurer, rebates must be determined and indexed by an independent body. And I mean independent of Government and respected by the profession, with its rulings open to challenge and appeal mechanisms.

Cheaper medical care is not better medical care: never has been, never will be.

Australia is not in financial crisis despite Joe Hockey’s futile, lightweight and totally unconvincing bleating.

We do not need to legislate that the poorest and neediest in society find cash before they approach a GP for help and direction.

The GP who provides their care at the Medicare rebate is already doing so at close to a zero income ballgame, but does so because he or she wants to help.

Sadly, our surgery premise rents, staff wages, indemnity fees, Medical Board fees, CME, College fees, do not increase at the same low rate as the MBS fees.

All these rise in relation to real world costs. MBS rebates are in cloud cuckoo land, totally devoid of reality.

Get angry now and approach your State AMA to say enough is enough. And get non-members to show some gumption and sign up.

Our only chance of victory for a sustainable, non-corruptible Medicare with honest patient rebates is for the profession to be united, stand up and say “we will not take this absolute nonsense anymore”.