AMA warns healthcare costs will go up under rebate freeze

DOCTORS have warned the price of medical care will increase because of the Federal Government's Medicare rebate freeze.

The Coalition government announced in the budget it would extend the rebate freeze until 2020.

But the Australian Medical Association has distributed posters to member doctors around the country warning fees would increase until the rebate freeze ended.

AMA President, Professor Brian Owler, said the association had been flooded with angry feedback from doctors and patients about the freeze.

"The Medicare patient rebate freeze extension means that health is going to cost more for all Australians, but particularly the poorest, the sickest, the vulnerable, and the disadvantaged," he said.

"Many doctors have absorbed the impact of the freeze until now, but the two-year extension has pushed them over the edge. Their businesses are struggling to remain viable."

But Coalition frontbencher Josh Frydenberg said on Sunday the government was using the money saved through keeping the rebate frozen to improve healthcare services.

"It is being continued because we're ploughing the money into other areas of healthcare," he said.

"When it comes to Medicare, the Turnbull government is absolutely committed to increasing the funding to Medicare."

Labor leader Bill Shorten said the continuation of the freeze would hurt the people who needed to access doctors the most.

"This is a disaster for patient care. You cannot trust Mr Turnbull's Coalition on Medicare," he said.

"We are very, very critical of that measure the government is trying to do".

But Mr Shorten would not outline the Opposition's plan for Medicare if elected.

"We will have a lot more to say about this very issue. We won't be finalising our Medicare rebate policy today."


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