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Sussan Ley makes first mark with flip on medicare rebate

Sussan Ley said she would speak with doctors.OPINION:Ley’s action, a new way?

EDITORIAL:Ley’s move a good step

A FEDERAL government backdownon Medicare rebate cuts has beenwelcomed by the Border’s peak medicalbody.

The government had plannedto strip $20 from rebates for shortvisits to the doctor but yesterdayscrapped the plan.

Health Minister and member forFarrer Sussan Ley said the cuts,which were to be implemented fromMonday, were now “off the table”.

Other measures, including the$5 GP co-payment, were still on theagenda, but Ms Ley told The BorderMail the co-payment was up fordiscussion and she did not rule outfurther changes.

Border Medical Association chairmanEliza Tweddle welcomed thescrapping of the rebate reductionbut said the group “awaited furtherdevelopments”.

“I think there has to be somethingdone to address health budget costs,”she said.

“It has to be well thought out,rational reform.

“There was significant concern inthe medical community about theproposed changes.

“Patients may have chosen notto see a doctor and delayed theirpresentation.

“The emergency departmentsof both Albury and Wodonga arealready under significant pressure,and that’s one of the primary areasthat needs to be addressed withgovernment funding.

“Any changes that result in thesudden increase in patients’ use ofthese already under pressure servicesis not good.”

Doctor Bill Walton is slightly disappointed the rebate reduction was dropped. Picture: JOHN RUSSELL

But Wodonga doctor Bill Waltonsaid he had supported the rebatereduction.

“It was aimed at improving thequality and I didn’t have a problemwith it, so I’m a little disappointed,”he said.

“I think it would stop this so-calledsix-minute medicine where people …are rushed through their consultations.

“I think what GPs want to do is move towards preventative health measures, and a lot of that takes longer than six minutes.

“I was glad to see the standard consultation was expected to be longer than 10 minutes.”

Ms Ley said the “overwhelming feedback” on the rebate cut was that it was not supported.

She said she was open to meeting with doctors and the Border Medical Association as part of consultations.

“I’m happy to discuss what doctors want to raise with me,” she said.

“They were concerned about changes to the Level A and B rebate.

“I have acted on that.”

Ms Ley said Medicare needed to become sustainable.

“The $5 co-payment is yet to be the discussion of either regulation or legislation,” she said.

“It’s a bit too early to talk about the detail of it.”

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