News National PM to reconsider co-pay: AMA
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PM to reconsider co-pay: AMA

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Doctors say they are heartened by a commitment from Prime Minister Tony Abbott to consider alternative models to the $7 GP co-payment.

Representatives from the Australian Medical Association held talks with Mr Abbott and Health Minister Peter Dutton in Canberra on Wednesday to discuss the group’s concerns.

Association president Brian Owler described the talks as “constructive”, saying Mr Abbott had indicated a willingness to consider changes to the co-payment.

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The AMA does not oppose the principle of a co-payment, but has been critical of the government’s design.

Associate Professor Owler said it was too early to outline what kind of co-payment the association would support.

However, he raised concerns about charging those in aged care, children and the chronically ill.

What the association wanted was to work with the government to come up with a model that promoted health care and protected the most vulnerable.

The government repeatedly has said it is willing to negotiate on the co-payment, but believes it has got the balance right.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott told parliament he had made it clear to the AMA that the government was committed to a “modest price signal” for GP services.

“The AMA knows that a modest co-payment would improve our Medicare system and that is why I am perfectly happy to work with the AMA to ensure that Australia has the best possible Medicare system,” Mr Abbott said.

Asked whether he had changed his mind on the co-payment, Mr Abbott said: “We are a consultative and a collegial government.”

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