Will you pay more to see your GP?

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Changes to the Medicare rebate, which take effect from Monday 19 January, may see patients pay more for GP consultations. Will you be asked to pay more?

The Medicare rebate for consultations less than 10 minutes in duration is being reduced from $37.05 to $16.95. Level B visits, as they are known, currently receive the full Medicare rebate, but in legislation pushed through by the Federal Government on 23 December 2014, they will now be subject to a rebate reduction of $20.10.

For those who are bulk billed, this change will have no effect, however, it may mean that some GPs will no longer offer a bulk-billing service. It may also result in GPs having a minimum 10-minute consultation policy, which will decrease the number of appointments available and increase waiting room times.

Those who pay for GP services will receive the lower Medicare rebate on short consultations, leaving them $20.10 out of pocket.

This change is on top of the $5 cut to all Medicare rebates for non-concessional patients that will take effect from 1 July 2015 and will result in an $11.95 rebate being paid for appointments under 10 minutes.

Indexation of Medicare rebates has also been frozen until 2018.

The changes to the rebates could however, be short lived, with Parliament returning in February and the opportunity for members of the Senate to vote for disallowance. Due to the government’s majority in the House of Representatives, the bill will pass the lower house, but will need Senate endorsement or it will face a motion of disallowance.

Three independent senators, Jacqui Lambie, Ricky Muir and Nick Xenophone, have already voiced opposition to these changes to Medicare. The support of Labor and Greens members, as well as one more crossbencher, is required to achieve the 39 votes it will take to reverse the proposed change. While the Labor cabinet has not yet met, Bill Shorten has made his feelings about the policy clear while campaigning for the Queensland election. “More Queenslanders will have to wait when they are sick and will end up going into the medical system later when they are sicker,” he said. And Labor’s health spokeswoman Catherine King said that “Labor has always defended Medicare”.

Read more at TheAge.com.au.

Opinion: Poor policy replaces poor policy

In a week when it has been revealed that Peter Dutton is ranked by GPs as the worst Health Minister in 35 years, the outlook isn’t much brighter for his replacement. A survey of 1100 GPs conducted by Australian Doctor magazine saw an overwhelming 46 per cent of those surveyed voting Mr Dutton as the worst Health Minister in living memory. For anyone who is interested, Nicola Roxon, who held the post under a Labor government from 2009 to 2011, came in second with 17 per cent of the vote. And Tony Abbott, who held the post in John Howard’s government from 2003 to 2007, came third with 13 per cent of the vote.

While you could argue that new Minister for Health, Susan Ley, won’t have to do much to be rated more highly than her predecessor, the odds are definitely stacked against her. Thrown under the proverbial bus, Susan Ley will have to try and steer through the Senate one of the least popular motions amongst GPs and their patients.

This move is designed to cover the projected savings lost with the abolition of the unpopular proposed $7 GP co-payment. The government was clearly kidding itself if it thought that this equally damaging rebate change would slide through unnoticed. Cutting $20 from the rebate received by GPs and those patients who do not qualify for bulk-billing is, quite frankly, one of the most ridiculous examples of policy on the run the that Australian public has been asked to accept.

Trying to see a GP is difficult enough as it is, and for those whose needs are simple, an appointment which is shorter than 10 minutes often fits the bill. A prescription for antibiotics, a referral renewal or a follow-up appointment for a previous diagnosis doesn’t take long, but still requires a visit to the GP. To punish GPs for facilitating such patients’ needs and patients for not needing to see a GP for more than 10 minutes is farcical.

This is simply replacing one piece of poor policy with another. So good luck Susan Ley in your first challenge in your new role. You’re going to need it.

What do you think?

Do you think the rebate reduction will result in fewer GPs offering bulk-billing, or increased wait time to see a GP? Will you have to pay more to see your GP?

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Written by Debbie McTaggart

449 Comments

Total Comments: 449
  1. 0
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    If these Bastards had to rely on the health scheme AND normal wages etc, they would not be so ready to implement such Draconian measures. A pox on them all!

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      Abbott as health minister .
      Funding cuts to hospitals, his rejection of a ban on junk food advertising and his controversial refusal to allow access to abortion drug RU486 – later overturned by a conscience vote in Parliament

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      I think they already have CHICKEN Pox ??

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      I have to laugh when I see the results of people with good intentions having their political voice.
      Nobody should be surprised that this government is wiping its feet on average Australians whilst promoting the lie of “fixing the budget” which it has no intention of doing.
      Your choice next time around Australians. Unless we all want to be under further attack my suggestion, as always, is to find the best Independent you can find and vote for him/her. If you get it wrong then you know what to do next election. If you get it right you will know.

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      Ive Ive got measles. I need a Doc.Do you think I could drop into parliament hase and see him . bulk billing in there.

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      And a Stut Stutter !!.. Clive still Bulk Bills !! But He hasn’t submitted them for Payment yet !!

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      In a popularity contest, Santa Claus always wins over Scrooge in this Age of Entitlement. The results are no surprise, and neither are the responses from the usual Labor stooges and Abbott haters.

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      The LNP have renamed themselves Queen another one bites the dust. Suck on those eggs Wally.

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    I thought the Medicare tax levy paid by everyone was to cover this exact thing ! Going to the doctor , and reasonable pricing. In the long distant past , when Medicare was first introduced, if s patient had Private Health cover the gap could be claimed, but that was done away with too ,

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      No the Medicare Levy is used to pay for concession card holders who are bulked billed. Another donation by the taxpayer to this group. They have a good life all up.

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      No good trying to defend the indefensible niemakawa, they are digging their own grave so fast with their underhand policies I can’t see them lasting another 2 years.

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      Niemakawa – rubbish!

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      niemakawa: If you saw or heard Sussan Ley discussing the amount of people that are bulk billed and shouldn’t be, then we all know the Medicare levy is paying for more than concession card holders. In fact many concession card holders including myself are not bulk billed. I’m certainly not being “donated” to. I note your leader has been rather quiet on this one, it took a woman to bail him out and I think she will be a good health minister. It will take a good woman to guts it out with a group of M.C.P’s.

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    Putting aside the sneaky, flawed, unfair policy initiative, I don’t think the results of the doctors’ survey are worth too much. Apparently, the worst Health Minister by a long way is the current one. The one before him is second worst and Abbott from 8 or so years ago is next worst. Sounds like the greater the number of years since you were Minister, the better you were! More than half the doctors surveyed wouldn’t have even been practising 35 years ago and, regardless, there wasn’t the same necessity then to sort out the government’s finances.

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    THis another example of the rich getting richer and the poorer getting poorer. I dnt mind paying a nominal fee, but what about the pollies and their ability to get so much for nothing if tey were not getting all their perks for life then here would be enough money in the coffers to pay people to go to the doctors. that is what annoys me !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. 0
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    This is another classic example of an ideological argument making perfect sense until…
    Why should doctors get the same fee for a 10 minute consult. as for a 20 minute one? Seems unfair, except in most instances people are paid by the hour, or minimum increments of -say 20 minutes.
    In practice, it’s hard to imagine the vast majority of doctors accepting this quietly, and not just passing on the costs to their patients, so effectively the patient is made to pay for a perceived unfair payment system to doctors.
    Another policy FAIL.

  6. 0
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    People are so stupid, nothing is free, we all pay, the current medicare arrangement is open to any GP who care to rort ! Public purse funding private business never a good idea.

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      Bit like funding government. But of course we wouldn’t have rorting going on there would we.

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      Medicare was never a private business

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      Kato I agree. A lot less over the last 12 months.

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      oasis1frog, You are absolutely correct. The problem is a great proportion of the population think someone else should pay their way.

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      Oasis..why do we have a Medicare Levy, which has been increased and can you please tell me what that money is for?
      General Practice Dr’s I would say are 99% hon
      est, not like the PM who claimed for a private wedding etc:etc:

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      Get ready to pay a whole lot more for a lot of things. It was ordained when Labor introduced the NBN, Gonski & the Disability insurance scheme among other things, then shot the golden egg laying goose.

      People had better decide what is important to them, & what isn’t, then start lobbying. A whole lot of handouts are going to have to be cut, by which ever government is in Canberra.

      If you don’t understand yet, let me say it again. Much of this, & even more pain to come, was planned by a red headed bitch, who laid minefields for whoever replaced her.

      I don’t know anyone who voted for her, so it must have been you lot. Suck it up, & enjoy the result.

      If this isn’t enough, put them back in, & find some real pain.

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      Frank, a lot less over the last 6 months?, really, and how would you know?, do you have access to government documents that the rest of us don’t?.

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      Really Hasbeen your colours are showing and if this is the sort of language the Liberal supporters use I hope the rest of the people commenting on here condemn them.

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      Don’t give politicians a new idea oasis1frog. Next they’ll be taxing us to breath.
      I am waiting until batteries come into production which will store the energy people generate from their rooftops. I am willing to bet that we will be hit with a ‘service availability charge’.

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      NO Btony, Medicare was never private. Private health funds paid rebates for GP bills.
      I don’t know if the Govt, paid Private Health funds a subsidiary at all. I know my Mum definitely took Dr’s account to medical health insurance and lodged claims for them.

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      Oasis, do you support the IPA, mate?

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      With the exception of a current trial in QLD I believe, private health insurance doe NOT cover GP visits under law!

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      I have never seen a poor Doctor. They live in a cotton wool commercial environment that no other professional has. I have witnessed their party chat, (when serving their tables), and it goes ” what is your new Jag like anything like the old Merc ???” Tutty tut tut- then swig on a Don Perrion or some flash plonk. But they never tipped me !!!

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      I think you may be being a bit tough on the medicos. But they are a bit of a type. Your story reminds me of an article I read about the Kosh brothers who own oil interests and are in the top 100 rich in the world. The story came from one of the porters who worked in the exclusive apartment where these two lived. One Christmas they were taking off and the porters lugged dozens of huge bags down to their car. One of the Kosh brothers then got out his cheque book and wrote a CHECK for $50. Merry Christmas slaves. Hope the cheque did not bounce.

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      No matter what any of us think there is a health funding crisis and something has to be done. Look around you, see all the overweight people who will inevitably have health problems. Where is the money going to come from to treat everyone?

      I would be happy to pay a bit more for a doctor’s visit if it meant a more viable medicare system.

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      The trouble is Radish the co payment isn’t going to Medicare.

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      If there’s a good chance that we are able to keep Medicare
      in the future, I think everyone paying a bit more,
      would be a small price to pay.

      Losing Medicare, now that would make
      hospital & Dr. visits hard to bear for many
      & doesn’t even bear thinking about.

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      That would be ok miss aisle if the money went to Medicare but it isn’t.

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      Since when did you become treasurer, Misty ?

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      Just stating what is being reported miss aisle, the money from the co-payment was to go to the Future Fund not Medicare.

  7. 0
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    god we have all voted for the worst political party ever, we were made to think the labor guys were bad, and I think we were all brainwashed into zombies, there should be some way a government can be forced to the lections early

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      Those who voted LNP were all brainwashed, not all of us voted for them.
      That should get Frank, Solomon ,miss aisle and K S S coming up with some justification for the screwover.

    • 0
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      Its a very good place here to let off steam for seniors mostly …….lolololol…….its a good job we are all different cos if we weren’t we would all be social outcats……

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      Its a very Poor Circus with only One Clown !!.. Lead them in btony !! 🙂 🙂 🙂 < Audience !!

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      And how boring that would be Precious 1.

    • 0
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      Tony Abbott’s Mantra:
      I love a sunburnt country
      A Land of knights and dames
      Of bigots, racists, xenophobes
      And voters with no brains.

      Seriously how could anyone vote for this mob. Abbott is pathological liar. I doubt he could even lie straight in bed. His only qualification to get the job of leader of his party was that he said climate change is absolute crap!! His destructive policies say much about this man, who as far as anyone knows still holds British citizenship, which disqualifies him of not only being PM but also of holding a position in parliament. Bring on the next election.

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      Ray: I blame the media which is NOT unbiased and which ran a propaganda campaign where the facts were sanitized so that this government got in. The fact that there was mass lying from Abbott and a number of other Liberals seems to have escaped our media….which painted quite another picture, which was untrue.
      A lesson for us all Ray: take more interest and take the main media and Current Affairs programs with a very very large grain of salt. I spent a lot of time online and it was clear what we were getting because most of the demonizing was plain false. Had other Australians done the same they also would have known and not be duped.

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      I love it Ruthie. Can I quote you? Mick, don’t tell me you figured out that Murdoch was behind the LNP’s success at the last election?

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      Paulo, mick, I suppose if labor return at some time all credit will be given to YLC? How does it feel when you think that everyone else is only half as smart as yourself?

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      You’ll wonder where Yer Smartness went ??
      When Yer Teams in Power and Heaven Sent !!

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      Frank: more liberal party advertising mate? So do you get bonuses as well as your retainer for services rendered?

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      Frank, I don’t think Paulo and Mick think you are half as smart as them

  8. 0
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    I’m with you Plan B ….Politicians will never feel the pinch of the economy as so many of us do
    It should be Pro rata if it comes into effect…if they get 50 times more than pensioners do they should be forced to pay accordingly……And for everything else they now get gratis
    air fares…cars etc…….I wonder how much that would do to help the Budget???

  9. 0
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    A good move by the government. Stop greedy GPs pushing patients through with 6 minute consults where nothing in the patient’s interest can realistically be achieved. Even the AMA have said they want the short consults stopped; now they are whinging about it! Consults over 10 minutes are not affected, you can all still keep your hands in your pockets.

    Debbie, can I please take you to task over your headline for this article? Very sensationalist and misleading, trying to scare readers into a political view.

    Hands up who here regularly sees the GP for an under 10 minute consult… Personally I have never… read that as NEVER… seen a GP for less than 10 minutes, so nothing changes.

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      I never have either, DavidB.
      We’re getting side-tracked from what is really important.

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      I have seen a Dr many times for less than 10 minutes. Sometimes to simply get a referral, most times to get a prescription for ongoing medication. Why should I pay more for a simple consultation that I am obliged to have? Just because you have a lot to talk about, don’t assume it’s the same for everyone else. Each person’s health needs are different.

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      Many patients don`t have anything serious anyway I would hazard a guess I did hear once upon a time that some later aged go for an afternoon out and always donate Christmas cakes puddings etc to said drs…who subsequently donate to local hospitals…….many go for prescription top ups……for jabs for overseas travel to helping other nations Ebola etc….majority scripts.it used to be a Monday morning Drs note to have permanent long weekends til all that stopped years ago…….Most of the people I meet never talk aout illness, sickness etc as if they do they will always end up in full care facilities…….

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      That’s happening most of the time isn’t it….some who don`t fully understand its like taking advantage………

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      Went to my cardiologist this week, took my blood pressure, referred me back to my original cardiologist and said $100-00 thanks. My response that my time too was valuable and he had kept me waiting 50 minutes so that I required a refund of
      $60-00 for my “waiting time”. Guess the reaction. My decision poor doctor – poor patient skills – will see other specialist at hospital – cost – zero. Who wins?

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      There was a time long ago when you needed a routine renewal of a prescription you rang the clinic and paid $5 when you picked it up. Wonder why this was changed to a full consultation. You just sit there, wait for the print-out and pay full tote odds. Lots of fishy things going on and some dost protest to much I think.

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      You can wait up to 40 Hours OR MORE there Dougie!! You should get a weeks Pay ??

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      Never had a problem with my hospital. They are excellent particolour. We are very fortunate.

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      Dougie ..My old neighbour cut His wrist badly by accident and I raced Him up to the Hospital Emergency Room !! We sat there for 4 Bloody Hours before He was attended to ?? A nurse came out at one stage and took a look and said “Oow Nasty!”..and that was about it !! Ill call an Ambulance next time !! As I have done before for My Patience here in the Home for the Bewildered !! 🙁 Its been lucky for a few of them that I am High in First Aid from My Railway Days !!..

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      good on you parti!! have you got a flashing light on the roof of your little car? In the “good old days” when in pursuit, police would swing a bell out the window while driving with one hand. Some of your patients may remember?
      Last year it took me 7 hours to get 7 stitches in a cut. The paramedics got me there in about 10 minutes, they were fantastic but I had to ask 3 times, because they kept forgetting about me.

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      What is it about all you liberal supporters and haters of people who have worked bloody hard and paid their taxes? I am an aged pensioner and only quit work completely last year at the age of 73. No super plan in my working life – Labor brought that in for all you whingers! Show some respect for your elders who made this country. None of you had to struggle through a terrible depression in the 30’s or the war years and after.

      Walk a mile in my shoes!

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      If we are going to pay more for short consults than longer ones, I will make sure that I take my time.

    • 0
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      The Senate will kill this off as well. I have to say to this government that “as you sow so shall you reap”.

    • 0
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      Frank !! You have to look Important to get served Quickly !! Turn up in Your Red Speedos next time and they will have You out of there before the Next High Tide !!

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      Ruthie, just to refresh your memory, you were born in 1941 and although you missed the 1930’s the early war years could not be referred to as the good old days either. My dear old mum ate bread and dripping up until the day she died at 84 recently and my dad couldn’t help himself. At the dinner table one night when I asked if anyone had seen fluffy my pet rabbit? I still have this vision of my parents as they bowed their heads and looked at their plates. As a toddler I was emotionally intelligent for my age. Ruthie nobody is begrudging you the aged pension. My early years made me industrious. I collected scrap metal and bottles for the refunds. I caught pigeons in the park and sold them to the chinese restaurants. By the age of 10 I had my own business and hired my first employee. By age 20, I knew there were only 2 ways to make money and I would eventually become old and unable to work. At the age of 60 that happened. I have never expected others to feed and cloth me but if I ever needed help I would be grateful. I would never say “give me some more you bastard.”

    • 0
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      Frank why do you and other Coalition supporters keep commenting about “Wanting more” ?, no one here is asking for more, just commenting about the lies, promises broken and sneaky ways this current Coalition Government goes about running our country.

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      Misty, that’s all I read on this site, more welfare, and abusive language directed at Tony Abbott. Some posters are that vile, they need to be exorcised before their heads spin off. Which makes me think that we need Abbott more than I had previously thought. When Bill Shorten said Labor had run out of messiahs, “no more messiahs.” maybe he was having a moment of complete honesty and admitting the difference between the major parties.

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      Frank: Another paid commercial from the Liberal Party??? Eh gad, how much do they pay you?

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      Davidb. I can’t imagine seeing my Dr for more than 5 mins. I’m great doc, just give me my six monthly script. Ta, see you in six months. I have a hiatus hernia and will be on raboprozal forever, but have to go see my Dr every six months. Why?

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      Theo, like you, I am a rare visitor to the doctor. Six visits last year. A previous doctor would just charge $2 for a new script and I could ring up, and it would be ready at the desk and I did not have to see him.

      I would like to see this option available at all doctors’ surgeries. Would save the taxpayer and the health system a lot of money as there must surely be many others in the same position as I am.

    • 0
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      I just remembered a friend of mine. She used to take her egg timer in when she visited her doctor. She used to plop it on his desk and would not leave until she had her ten minutes worth. She was a real character but I doubt many others would do that LOL!

  10. 0
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    Tony Abbott as health minister.
    He reversed the Coalition’s unpopular erosion of Medicare rebates, with extra incentives for doctors to bulk bill children and pensioners, prompting Mr Abbott to declare himself “Medicare’s greatest friend
    now that is a great swing is it not.

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      I’m a pensioner and my doctor doesn’t bulk bill. I’ve been cheated!! haven’t I?
      Presently I pay $62 to see the doctor, Medicare rebate $37.05 i.e. I pay $24.95 out of pocket.
      From next Monday I pay $62(?) to the doctor. Medicare rebate being $16.95.
      I therefore pay $44.05 out of pocket. I doubt there will be very many doctors bulk billing from next week, however they may sit on the fence until Parliament resumes in February and the Senate does the right thing and votes against this Abbott “instrument” of injustice.
      He’s a real great leader isn’t he? A real “swinger”. Reduced pension rises to cope with higher Medicare costs, reduced pension rises to cope with a very likely extension of the GST on food; and higher costs for health and education generally for the population.
      Where did he get his licence to practice?

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      In The Reject Shop ??

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      And Mitzy, you are a real “whinger”. Be thankful and a bit more grateful that we have a Government with its finger on the pulse.

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      niemakawa: If you think what I have written above is a “real whinge” you have no idea what a real whinge is. While I’m on the whinge trail, as you put it, I could be a bit more thankful and grateful if this government put its finger on the pulse in some other direction other than the people who earn the least and pay the most.

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      Misty, you are very misguided. Those who earn least pay the least . As well they get a plethora of Government benefits and then have the audacity to expect more and more.

    • 0
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      I don’t think this site is supposed to become a slinging match

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      Niemakawa, there is a difference in having your finger on the pulse and adding enough pressure to cut off the blood supply. You have right to your opinion, but you write some very silly uninformed nonsense. Engy , it’s okay to sling off at what people write, but it shouldn’t become personal except in extreme cases 🙂

    • 0
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      Niemakawa you are getting me mixed up with MITZY again.

    • 0
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      I noticed that ?? I looked everywhere for Misty but only found MITZY ?? I think He watched that Movie once too often ?? Or was it a Song also ?? I’m calling it the Misty MITZY Mix Up now !!

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      niemakawa: We’ve had this discussion on this website many times with many participants, you therefore are playing misty! The ones that earn the least pay the most. The ones that earn the most pay the least (they have the means to do so). I note you have turned this around to the pensioners again, with your comment on their plethora of government benefits. What about the lower income workers who struggle week in week out who have no means to save from their income – it is all spent on paying bills and eating. There will always be have’s and have nots but the role of government is to spread the taxes they collect in a multitude of directions. Unfortunately some governments are not doing the Robin Hood act too well.

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      Parti: If I change my MITZY to MITZEEEEE…….my dog wouldn’t like her new name!

    • 0
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      Careful he will end up with the misty blues. And might need to see a doc. But I’m all right mama he don’t use bulk billin.

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