Bulk billing incentives for pathologists to be scrapped on day before election, Sussan Ley says
Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley says she will not give into a "scare campaign" against a policy to scrap bulk billing incentives for pathologists — even if the plan is due to come into effect the day before the July 2 election.
The Opposition and pathologists are fighting against the Federal Government's policy to cut bonus payments it offers for pathology services to bulk bill.
But Ms Ley looks set to push on with the changes, despite them being flagged to kick in on July 1.
"The Government's made announcements and we'll stick with those announcements," Ms Ley said.
"I'm certainly not bending to Labor's scare campaign and our intention is to proceed as planned.
"We're running sensible, measured health policy."
Policy to 'save $650m over four years'
The Federal Government said the policy would save $650 million over four years, but the Opposition and pathologists are muscling up for an election campaign fight.
Pathology Australia chief executive Liesel Wett argued the changes could dissuade patients from having medical tests.
"This election campaign, we will be doing everything we can to stop the cuts to bulk billing," Ms Wett said.
"We're asking all pathology patients to sign up to our campaign and we've got 466,000 patients that have signed our petition because they're saying no to these cuts."
Labor, who introduced the incentive in 2009, has described the Government's plan as "medical madness".
But Ms Ley said she was not worried about a campaign against the changes in the lead-up to an election poll.
"I will be working very hard to explain to the Australian people that the measures that we take are all about patients at the centre," she said.
Patients 'will be asked to pay'
Ms Wett said scrapping the bulk billing incentive would have consequences.
"Patients will be asked to pay, so be charged a co-payment at the time of their pathology test," she said.
"Some providers have actually been quite public in stating it could be in addition to $30 per patient."
Ms Ley rejected that and said the Government had a responsibility to be productive with taxpayer money.
"There is a misinformation campaign happening and what that says is that the $1-3 incentive that has been paid only recently for pathology tests, and is going to be removed, will actually make those pathology providers charge an extra $30," Ms Ley said.
"That is ridiculous.
"The realities are that we are acting in the interests of a sustainable health system."
Source: ABC News