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Australia: SA worried over GP tax

23 April 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Author: AAP
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Author: AAP

FEDERAL government plans to introduce a $6 payment for bulk-billed visits to GPs would triple waiting times at South Australia's hospital emergency departments, Health Minister Jack Snelling says.

The South Australian Minister says the payments would prompt more people to head to hospital and early modelling has indicated that a big increase in waiting times would result from just a small increase in the number of people presenting to emergency departments.

"This would see a complete blow-out in those emergency waiting times because of this GP tax," he said.

The co-payment plan will be included in the federal government's May budget with a view to saving $750 million over the next four years, a report in The Australian says.

The new measure will include a cap at 12 visits, meaning bulk-billed patients would face a maximum extra cost of $72 a year.

Mr Snelling said the GP payment would place severe budgetary pressures on the public hospital system.

But he has ruled out putting a similar charge on emergency department admissions.

"I have great problems with this whole idea that the solution to our health system is to make it more difficult to access basic, primary health care," he said.

"It's basic, primary health care which keeps people out of hospital."

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