The federal health minister appears to be backing away from a budget proposal to funnel money raised from a planned GP visit co-payment into a medical research fund.
Sussan Ley said while she didn’t want to pick a fight with doctors and was engaged in genuine consultations with the medical profession, there was general recognition of the need to send the community a price signal on Medicare costs.
The government initially proposed a $7 co-payment, before lowering it to $5, with the proceeds to put toward the research fund.
But opposition from doctors to the co-payment remains and the government is going back to the drawing board on the policy.
‘I’m not locking anything in,’ Ms Ley told ABC radio on Wednesday.
‘If I knew what the end point of what my consultations would be I wouldn’t be having real consultations.’
The minister declined to confirm whether or not cash raised by a GP co-payment would still be earmarked for the research fund.
‘I’m not going to guarantee something that relates to a consultation that I haven’t completed, I mean that would be duplicitous of me,’ Ms Ley said.
The fund is already receiving monies, she said, and its revenue was not dependent upon one particular policy.
The government has promised not to push ahead with any new Medicare co-payment proposals without the support of doctors.