May 30, 2014

Co-payments and inept budget messaging put Coalition in a hole

What's the purpose of the Medicare co-payments? It's a good question that not even the government has been able to answer in its shambolic efforts to sell the budget

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

Quick, informed, engaged Crikey reader, tell me — what’s the purpose of the Medicare bulk-billing co-payment?

Is it to help address the budget emergency?

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52 thoughts on “Co-payments and inept budget messaging put Coalition in a hole

  1. Dez Paul

    Be careful, BK. This gumint might offer you a job as a comms consultant.

    Love the reference to Poodles as the loaded dog….

  2. Jimmy

    Bernard you forgot a reason for the co-payment – pre budget when it was being mooted the reason was that medicare was becoming unsustainable and health costs were growing at something like 7 times the rate of inflation.

    As for News Ltd – articles in the Herald Sun this week have included the amount of money ALP ministers spent on travel, a front page artivle on Sunday about Tim Mathieson’s “bizarre attack” on the amount of charity work our first lady is doing and that 46 people have been on Newstart since it was brought in – no bias though.

  3. leon knight

    Agreed Dez, but I recall the loaded dog was a rather attractive black retriever with a winsome red grin….but Pyne would look a heck of a lot more attractive with a stick of well-wrapped dynamite in his mouth, and it would shut him up while we all excitedly awaited the explosion.

  4. wayne robinson


    You owe me a new iPad. I read your item drinking a cup of coffee and the screen is now ruined. Loved the loaded dog reference. Actually, loved it all.

  5. MsCharli

    You made my day with the use of the term “WTFness”. A term that could be applied to the LNP government in general lately.

  6. klewso

    What’s that old saying “Better to remain silent and be seen a fool, than to gob-off and remove all doubt”?

  7. Steve777

    The Co payment has nothing to do with paying back debt. It does’t go towards the Government’s bottom line but goes into this bizarre ‘Medical Research Future Fund’. It’s real purpose is to make bulk billing less attractive or even unviable for doctors. Those who bulk bill now would have to accept a big pay cut to continue. It is a first step in the process to dismantle Medicare. Malcolm Fraser took 6 years to get rid of Medibank. Abbott, given a second term, probably won’t take as long.

  8. klewso

    It’s black-mail – to crucify Labor with, if they refuse to pass their dog?

  9. Emoticom

    Well it can’t be all of these.  If it’s to fix the budget bottom line it has no effect if the copayment and more is effectively taken from the bulk billing GP to fund the research. At best such research will find expensive remedies for chronic illnesses, many of which are lifestyle driven.

    If it is to reduce overuse of Medicare, the 1% saving in numbers of consultations may well cost more in terms of a reduction in the best management of these same chronic illnesses at the primary level leading to even greater costs, including expensive hospital costs, down the road.

    The sleeper in these proposals is the cost to the patient for necessary pathology tests.  The $7 copayment would apply to each billable test, not each pathology visit.  For many people with chronic conditions, five or mor tests that need to be done regularly, amounting to a copayment of $35 or more each time.  Pathology ordering needs to be reigned in but punishing the patient is not the way to do it.

    The government will be forced to allow unrestricted bulk billing as now for pensioners and Health card holders.  For others, the could allow the GP to charge up to $6 and still bulk bill for the rebate.  This would be optional for the doctor, but the squeeze on general practice due to a freezing of the rebate for three years will push mor doctors to charging some copayment for most patients in this cohort.  The government would get what it wants, a price signal, and the GP would wear the opprobrium.

  10. Barrie O'Shea

    The figures used publicly by the Liberal Party in justifying their cuts are completely at odds with their own Budget figures. According to Statement 10, Table 3 of the Budget papers, our net debt is $145 billion, not $670 billion, and our interest bill is $560 million per month, not $1 billion. We paid substantially more than this for 5 years under Howard, without any “emergency” being mentioned. We should never have let a lawyer handle the accounts!

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