The Minister for Health, Peter Dutton, has refused to comment on speculation that the Commission of Audit will recommend a Medicare co-payment for bulk-billed patients.
“We won’t be commenting on speculation around what the Commission of Audit may or may not recommend,” Dutton said.
Media speculation this week has suggested consideration of a $5 upfront co-payment for bulk-billed GP patients. The speculation suggests savings of around $700 million a year can be made by introducing the co-payment.
The idea is said to apply to families after they have made 12 visits to a GP in any year. Pensioners and health card holders would be exempt.
The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Penny Wong, described the proposal as a tax on health care and said the Abbott government is not the government voters thought they were getting.
The media speculation may be part of a softening-up process for next year’s Budget. It could be a kite-flying exercise to test reaction.
The Commission of Audit was announced on October 22. Chaired by Business Council of Australia President Tony Shepherd, its members are Dr. Peter Boxall, Tony Cole, Robert Fisher and former Senator Amanda Vanstone.
Text of statement from the Minister for Health, Peter Dutton.
There has been widespread speculation in the media today about what recommendations the whole of government Commission of Audit may make in relation to health.
The Coalition Government is committed to maintaining and improving out world class health system.
Labot spent a lot of money on creating huge health bureaucracies. The Coalition Government is committed to getting more of that money back to deliver and improve front line services for patients.
The government has committed to funding in health and to making sure out health system is sustainable and accessible in to the future. We stand by that commitment.
We won’t be commenting on speculation around what the Commission of Audit may or may not recommend.
The Commission’s work is still being compiled and will be provided to the Government in 2014.
The Government will be able to consider any recommendations and respond after that time.