Discuss policy, prevention, not $7: Owler

The Abbott Government’s shelving of its controversial $7 GP copayment is a win for health policy, AMA president Brian Owler told the ABC’s Virginia Trioli today.

“I think it’s a win for patients because the Government’s proposal did affect vulnerable patients in our community and that’s one of the reasons the AMA is so opposed to it,” he told Ms Trioli in an interview for ABC News 24.

“The AMA doesn’t oppose co-payments, we already have them in our health system, but only for those who can afford to pay them.”

He said that now we can have a discussion about the problems of chronic disease management and prevention.

He said that doctors would not find a reduced fee to doctors via the MBS acceptable, should the Government decide to do so, as suggested by Shadow Health Minister Catherine King on Radio National.

“The idea of cutting the fee, cutting the rebate through regulation, I think, would be very poor policy, and of course not something that we would support because… there would be a lot of pressure on doctors to pass those fees onto patients and that’s not the sort of model that we want to see develop.”

He said that discussions on health should look at policy, prevention and chronic disease management.

“Most of the population, over 65, end up having multiple chronic diseases, sometimes four or five. If we want a sustainable health care system, we have to look after those patients, manage them in the community and keep them out of more expensive hospital care.

“That’s the sort of discussion we should be having, rather than the issue of whether or not someone is paying $7.”

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