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Budget will make healthcare a "luxury item"

13 May 2014

Today's Federal Budget announcement holds nothing but pain for Victorians. Just as no one is immune from sickness, no one will be immune from these dramatic increases in out-of-pocket health expenses.

Victorians will be hammered by: 

  •  $7 GP co-payment
  • Pathology and imaging fees
  • $5 increase to medications (80 cent increase for concession card holders)
  • States will be given the power to introduce an Emergency Department fee
  • An increase in the Medicare Safety-net threshold, and
  • A freeze on private health insurance rebates.

Through a revision of the National Health Reform Agreement, Victoria is set to lose $670m in direct funding for public hospitals. Victoria will also lose access to reward funding, which was previously available. Reward funding provides an incentive for hospitals to meet important performance targets, such as the number of patients receiving surgery within clinically recommended times.

“This will affect Victorians' access to important health services, it will increase waiting times for surgery and emergency care, and lead to a likely reduction in overall capacity, newly elected AMA Victoria President, Dr Tony Bartone, said tonight.

“This Budget will impede access to healthcare and a number of people will defer seeking treatment for serious medical conditions due to the cost barrier.

“As a GP, I am also greatly concerned by the introduction of fees for pathology services, as many of my patients require multiple and repeated tests as part of ongoing clinical management. For example, if you're on the blood medication Warfarin, blood tests might be ordered every three days. All of these additional costs will put healthcare out of reach.

“These changes will lead to blood tests and GP visits being viewed as "luxury" items and may mean that patients have to choose between important medical treatments or putting food on the table.

“The Government needs to stop hitting general practice. General practice is not the problem, it is the solution, Dr Bartone said.

Media contact
Felicity Ryan
Australian Medical Association Victoria
Mobile: 0437 450 506
Telephone: (03) 9280 8753

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