Co-payment cost worries doctor

Crippling condition: Mount Druitt Medical Centre principal GP Kean-Seng Lim has grave concerns about the $7 co-payment. He's pictured with patient Denise Bennett. Picture: Geoff Jones

Crippling condition: Mount Druitt Medical Centre principal GP Kean-Seng Lim has grave concerns about the $7 co-payment. He's pictured with patient Denise Bennett. Picture: Geoff Jones

Mount Druitt GP Kean-Seng Lim has described the federal government's $7 co-payment as short-sighted.

From July 1 next year, patients will pay $7 each for their first 10 visits to their GP.

Blood tests, X-rays and other pathology examinations will carry extra costs.

"This ideological proposal makes no health or financial sense," Dr Lim said.

"It's not going to solve the problem, it's going to exacerbate it. Increasing good primary health care reduces hospital admissions by up to 40 per cent."

Dr Lim has no doubt it will deter patients from going to the doctor.

"I have a regular patient who suffers from a mental illness, diabetes and heart failure," he said.

"He was short of breath because of his heart condition so we changed his medication. Had he put off coming to see me two days longer, he would have ended up in hospital, which would have cost $10,000. For the sake of a few dollars, it will cost the system far more.

"It's going to make it harder for patients when more access to primary health care is vital. You have a better integrated health system when the focus is on prevention."

Mr Lim also had concerns about the co-payment visit limit.

"We have our records of how many times a patient comes here but not if they go to other GPs," he said.

"Those details still aren't very clear."

Dr Lim urged patients affected by the co-payment to contact their federal MP.

Nepean Medical Association weighs in

Nepean Medical Association member Dr Michelle Crockett said western Sydney had a population with a high burden of chronic illness that most needed good primary care.

"The co-payment is likely to discourage patients from presenting for preventative care resulting in missed opportunities to proactively prevent disease which will result in an increase in health costs and a higher burden of illness in the community," she said.

"The proposed co-payment will disadvantage our most vulnerable patients — the sick and young people.

"We would like to see the government invest in general practice and encourage all parts of the health system to work together to deliver the best possible health care to the entire community."

Our Budget wrap-up

As state and territory leaders convened in Sydney on Sunday to discuss the $80 billion shortfall in health and education funding in the federal budget it was predicted these and other measures would hit already struggling western Sydney residents hardest. Click here to read more.

How will students be affected?

University of Western Sydney vice-chancellor Barney Glover said the university would consult students to better understand the federal budget's impact on the affordability of degrees. Clickhere for the full story.

What your pollies said about this Budget

Chifley MP Ed Husic (Labor)

‘‘Western Sydney low and middle income families are squarely targeted by one of the most vicious budgets in living memory," Mr Husic said.

"It’s a budget of broken promises and ordinary Australians will be forced to pay the price for it.

"Joe Hockey created the myth of a budget emergency so the government could carve up family budgets in our area. A country that has three AAA ratings and some of the lowest government debt within advanced economies cannot be said to be suffering a budget emergency.

"In relation to measures to freeze the Family Tax Benefit schemes for two years and block unemployment payments for the first six months for people under the age of 30, this decision is potential social dynamite in an electorate like Chifley which already suffers from higher than average unemployment.

"On top of those changes, linking pensions to CPI will see pensions decrease, rest assured.’’

Lindsay MP Fiona Scott (Liberal)

 ‘‘It is part of the Abbott government’s economic action strategy to build a strong, prosperous economy for a safe, secure Australia," Ms Scott said.

"The government has made the difficult but necessary decisions to put the budget on a more sustainable footing so we can all share in prosperity in the future.

"We are all playing a part, because it’s in sharing the load that we lighten the load.

"Labor ran up five record deficits and left $123 billion in future deficits. If we took no action, debt would have hit $667 billion.

"The key goal of the budget is to strengthen the economy, because when you strengthen the economy, small businesses succeed, families have less pressure on them and jobs are created.’’

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