EXHORBITANT COPAYMENTS RIFE BUT AMA WANTS DOCTORS TO DECIDE WHO PAYS HOW MUCH

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Source: doctors reform society

First published: Tuesday, July 29, 2014

EXHORBITANT COPAYMENTS RIFE BUT AMA WANTS DOCTORS TO DECIDE WHO PAYS HOW MUCH

"Reports today that even the Royal Australian College of Surgeons has raised concerns about how much some of its members charge highlight the basic problem with the Australian Medical Association's (AMA) approach to copayments as they the AMA, negotiate with Government to modify the budget copayment proposals", said Dr Tim Woodruff, vice president of the Doctors Reform Society.

The AMA insists that copayments are fine but wants its members to be able to decide who pays how much. Its objection to the Government's proposal is as much about doctors' power as it is about caring for patients struggling financially. It wants copayments to be a part of the system and has always recommended a much bigger copayment for doctors' visits than the Government recommended scheduled fee.

But it ignores the fact that many of the surgeons who the RACS say are charging 'exploitive and unethical' fees are likely to be members of the AMA. It nevertheless insists that doctors should be trusted to decide such fees. This inevitably results in copayments which stop patients accessing necessary and life saving care.

The evidence is there for all to see. Copayments reduce access (the treasurer wants reduced access). Access saves lives. When doctors decide who pays how much, some will charge patients who then can't afford access. Lives are being lost. And doctors and Government must bear the responsibility.

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