Thursday, 17 July 2014
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister Representing the Minister for Health. I refer to research by the University of Sydney that found 13 per cent of people in some parts of the community put off seeing a GP, or do not seek medical care, due to cost. What will be the additional impact of the Abbott government's $7 GP tax?
I am aware of the report that the senator is referring to, and there have been considerations around that report and the methodology that was used. There has been a range of commentary around the budget when it comes to health. The decisions this government has taken when it comes to the budget and health are to ensure a sustainable health system into the future. Unlike those opposite, who when it comes to health are prepared to run with policy that is ill thought through, this government is going to ensure a sustainable health system.
Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Can the minister confirm findings from the University of Sydney that an older pensioner couple who hold concession cards would expect to pay $199 or more a year for GP visits, tests and medications as a result of the government's budget measures?
It is interesting to note that a range of those costs for retired people are not attributable to government. The report overstates the effect of the measure on older Australians by including per capita services across the whole population over 65. While the rate of service use and concession card status increases with age, the report does not exclude those items which are not included in the measure—for example, chronic disease management plans. It uses averages, rather than medians, and it is biased by using a small number of people. So the report, in a lots of ways, overstates the effect.
There are obviously a number of views about that report and other reporting on the budget. This government will ensure— (Time expired)
Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Can the minister confirm that an average general patient who has type 2 diabetes would pay in out-of-pocket costs an extra $120 per year in co-payments for GP visits and tests as a result of the government's $7 GP tax?
There are a range of measures when it comes to determining what those out-of-pocket costs are. Some of those, in terms of the reporting, have been looked at outside of what government provides. So I would suggest that senators opposite should not necessarily take as gospel what we are seeing in one particular report.
Unlike those opposite, this government is prepared to take the tough decisions when it comes to budgets to make sure we have not only a sustainable health system into the future but a sustainable economy. That is the right thing to do for the Australian people, and that is what this government will continue to do.