Abbott joins Greens, ALP, PUP in rejecting AMA's co-payment

THE Australian Medical Association's answer to the contentious GP co-payment scheme the Government is trying to get through the Senate, may not be much of an alternative after all.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Tony Abbott joined Labor, the Greens and the Palmer United Party in rejecting the plan which would see pensioners, children and the disadvantaged excluded from the payment.

Mr Abbott is of the opinion that since pensioners already made a co-payment for prescriptions, it was not "unreasonable for a comparable amount to be paid for visits to the GP".

The AMA's plan, which would see a $6.15 co-payment for those who can afford it and rejects the Government's cuts to the Medicare rebate, also found little favour from a number of other medical groups and social welfare organisations.

The Queensland Nurses Union added its voice to that of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation insisting the co-payment would end universal health care and put sick, injured and vulnerable Australians at greater risk.

"The AMA has a legitimate interest in the outcome, and while doctors have a right to protect their earning capacities, it should not be at the expense of poor and vulnerable patients," said QNU Secretary Beth Mohle.

Consumer groups, too, were concerned about the barrier to primary healthcare that the co-payment would present.

"The AMA itself says that general practice is 'a low-cost and efficient part of the health system'," said CEO of the Consumers Health Forum, Adam Stankevicius. "Why complicate a system that has worked well for 30 years. And where is the Government modelling to support such a dramatic change to Medicare?"