Dr Brian Owler (Image courtesy of the AMA)

After weeks of railing against the Federal government’s “poorly designed” GP co-payment proposal of $7.00, the Australian Medical Association has released its own proposal, a minimum co-payment just 85¢ less than the figure contained in the Coalition’s hotly-contested Budget. 

AMA President, Assoc Prof Brian Owler, called on the Government to “dump its seriously flawed GP co-payments proposal and adopt the AMA model, which exempts the most vulnerable patients from extra cost burdens for their health care.”

He outlined a model “based on the realities of day-to-day medical practice”, aimed at providing “higher quality primary care for all Australians.”

Dramatic news it was not, despite the fire and brimstone emanating from the AMA for some time.

“We propose a minimum $6.15 co-payment (which aligns with the current bulk billing incentive) that applies to all patients, but the Government will pay the co-payment for concession card holders and patients under 16 years of age.

“Under our model, there will be no cut to the Medicare patient rebate, and there is an incentive for general practices to collect the co-payment.”

Calling the AMA’s position “a health policy, not an economic policy,” Professor Owler said, “The AMA co-payment model protects vulnerable patients in the community, values general practice to encourage quality care and support prevention and chronic disease management, and it also sends a price signal for non-concession patients.

“The AMA co-payment model allows GPs the opportunity to spend more time with their patients, provide preventive health care and chronic disease management, and place a value on the essential service they provide.

“It maximises the benefits of high quality primary care in general practice, keeping people well, and keeping people out of more expensive hospital care.

“We are confident that our co-payment model will stimulate robust debate in the community, in the political arena, and in the health sector, and remind the Government of the unfairness, inequity, and electoral unpopularity of its Budget co-payment proposals,” Professor Owler added.