Medicare future uncertain as minister avoids questions

THE future of the Abbott government's proposals on a controversial Medicare GP co-payment remains uncertain, after Health Minister Sussan Ley avoided questions about the policy yesterday.

Ms Ley has been in talks around the country on all health policies since the original $7 co-payment was dumped for a $5 co-payment in December last year.

But the specifics of what reforms the government is planning remain in doubt, with numerous backbenchers in recent weeks calling for the policy to be dumped altogether.

APN further understands that several Coalition MPs are considering crossing the floor if the policy is resurrected, including Dawson MP George Christensen who has already publicly indicated so.

But since Prime Minister Tony Abbott last week declared "good government starts now", Ms Ley has refused to be drawn on the specifics of one of the government's most debated proposals.

She told ABC Radio yesterday she was still consulting with the health profession, but would not guarantee revenue from a co-payment, if enacted, would go to a multi-billion medical research fund, despite previous health minister Peter Dutton arguing the "price signal" was needed to help make Medicare more "sustainable".

That fund was a key part of the government's 2014 budget to help fund research for disease cures in Australia.

But Ms Ley would not guarantee something "that relates to a consultation that I haven't completed".

Topics:  health medicare

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