No to Abbott's back-door GP tax scam

December 10, 2014

"The Abbott government's proposed back-door GP tax is a massive scam, and should be totally rejected by the whole community," Susan Price, Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Summer Hill in the March 2015 NSW state election, said on December 10.

"Today, International Human Rights Day, is a good time to stand up for universal public health as a basic human right. Abbott's proposed cut to the Medicare rebate for doctors still means the beginning of the end of our treasured universal, national public health system, Medicare", she said.

"The fact that the government has been forced, under enormous community pressure, to back off from its hated $7 GP co-payment plan is an important win for people power. It has finally been forced to exclude pensioners and low-income concession card holders, as well as children, from the co-payment scheme.

"But, by reducing the Medicare rebate to GPs by $5, it is effectively making the doctors either take a pay cut, or charge patients an extra $5 for consultations. It is merely a slightly reduced version of the original GP co-payment plan, but now fully administered by doctors and medical centres.

"This new plan is a huge confidence trick on the Australian public. It will still threaten the integrity of the Medicare system, by undermining the high proportion of bulk-billing by GPs that is the core of our national health system," Price said.

Price said, "The fact that, although some of these changes can be initially implemented through government regulation, they will all face final decision by the Parliament, means that the public campaign against Abbott's $5 GP tax scam needs to be stepped up in the new year.

"Doctors, nurses, other health workers, unions, and community groups must unite to build a strong public campaign against the changes to ensure they are either withdrawn or defeated in the Senate.

"Already, the spirited effort co-ordinated by the Save Medicare Campaign, the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association, and other groups this year, has played an important role in stopping the original $7 GP co-payment plan going through.

"Now, we need to accelerate our efforts to build an even broader campaign to defeat the $5 GP tax and defend Medicare as a genuine, universal national health scheme into the future”, Price concluded.

Media release date: 
Wednesday, December 10, 2014