RURAL doctors could be forced to turn patients away to fill out forms to help raise money for the Abbott government's coffers under the $7 GP co-payment.
The new co-payment will be levied on the first 10 visits on all Australians to their GP, with some exceptions for concession card holders, to start next July.
But the Rural Doctors Association of Australia says the extra cost will force local GPs to fill out the associated paperwork, rather than see patients.
RDAA president Dr Ian Kamerman said while the Abbott government was talking about helping doctors cut out the "endless paperwork", the co-payment is "irony, in capital letters and underlined".
"Rural doctors and their practice staff will now be forced to negotiate the Medicare co-payment with nearly all the patients they see - including those in nursing homes and from disadvantaged backgrounds - causing yet more stress on doctors and staff, more time lost due to government red-tape while waiting times get longer, and quite possibly more financial stress as doctors opt to lose money rather than charge the co-payment to needy patients," he said.
The co-payment, which will still have to pass fierce opposition in the Senate before it made a reality, was a key recommendation of the government's Commission of Audit.
But the government will be forced to negotiate with all Senate parties to get it through, while Labor, The Greens and the Palmer United Party have all vowed to fight it.
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