News National CoPayNoWay: Docs fight back

CoPayNoWay: Docs fight back

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Australian doctors who oppose the Federal Government’s proposed co-payment for visiting a GP have begun protesting the plan, pointing out that the fee will be difficult to collect and may discourage them from bulk billing.

Called CoPayNoWay, the GP-led campaign is being mounted on a Twitter, a website dedicated to co-payment stories and the ABC reports that signs are being placed in waiting rooms.

Western Sydney GP Dr Hani Bittar told the ABC that the co-payment poses very large problems for doctors, many of whom are not equipped to manage the system.

Treasurer Joe Hockey. Photo: Getty

“Doctors are not investigators and are not social workers. I wouldn’t differentiate between my patients – I either charge them all or not charge them all,” he told the ABC.

“I think it’s up to government to tell people whether they should pay or not.”

Hockey’s view

Speaking on television earlier this week, Treasurer Joe Hockey pointed out that the so-called co-payment would not be applied without reference to a patient’s circumstances, suggesting there would be exemptions for people who suffer from chronic illness.

But doctors’ groups have been swift to announce their concerns about the plan, which range from discouraging people from seeking medical help, the impact on bulk billing and logistical problems with collecting the fees.

One of the major criticisms of the plan has been its affordability.

Answering questions on the ABC’s Q&A, Treasurer Joe Hockey was told by a number of audience members that $7 was a fee many would struggle to pay.

Patient numbers ‘slipping’

Dr Bittar told the ABC that some GPs had reported that patient were already staying away.

“The number of people who are against it is a lot more than the number of people who agree with it,” he said. “All of this will cost time and effort and money.”

—with ABC