Reports $6 GP co-payment to be announced in federal budget

AUSTRALIANS visiting their GPs could soon expect to be charged a $6 fee for each visit, up to 12 each year, under a reported budget decision.

However, Health Minister Peter Dutton has not confirmed the decision to introduce the co-payment for GP visits previously covered by Medicare.

Media reports on Tuesday cited un-named sources from the Abbott government's expenditure review committee as saying the fee would be included in the coming May Budget.

The proposed fee would be charged at $6 each visit, up to 12 a year, but the details have not yet been released, creating uncertainty for patients and the medical profession.

While the Australian Medical Association has previously criticised the proposal, other key lobby groups, including National Seniors, have endorsed it.

A recent Senate inquiry into the government's Commission of Audit examined the proposal, with opinion divided.

Some stakeholders told that inquiry it would help to recoup the rising costs of Medicare on the federal budget.

Others feared it could push low-income patients towards already stressed state government-run emergency departments for issues they would previously addressed with their GP.

While speculation is rife, the government is likely to leave any confirmation of the plan until the release of its first budget, on May 13.


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