PARENTS wanting to vaccinate their children will be forced to pay the $7 GP co-payment fee with the Abbott Government confirming they will not make any exemptions.
Both children and the elderly will have to pay $7 per visit for up to 10 visits under the Coalition’s co-payment for bulk-billed patients.
“Children will be billed as there are no exemptions,” AMA president Steve Hambleton said. Currently, children receiving scheduled immunisations are bulk billed with no out-of- pocket expense.
“We don’t want to put further barriers in front of people with regards to immunisations, particularly when it comes to immunising their children,” Dr Hambleton said.
A spokesman for federal health minister Peter Dutton said parents will have to pay for their children’s immunisations. “The situation is, the vaccine is free. If the doctor bulk bills, the parent will pay the $7 contribution,” the spokesman said yesterday.
The AMA backed the Sunday and Daily Telegraph’s No Jab No Play campaign that aimed to increase lagging immunisation rates.
In Opposition, Tony Abbott backed the campaign. Last May, he said: “We have to be vigilant, otherwise we will get dangerous outbreaks that will put kids at risk of serious diseases that are totally avoidable. As a former health minister, I know how crucial high immunisation rates are to control deadly infectious diseases.”
GPs have launched a campaign called Co Pay No Way with the backing of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. RACGP president Dr Liz Marles said she was of the understanding that parents getting kids immunised would have to make the co-payment, which was a disincentive to vaccination.
Meanwhile, Mr Dutton has confirmed bureaucrats had started work on the $7 GP co-payment even as the government was publicly suggesting there were “no plans’’ to introduce one. He has revealed for the first time the government maintained an “open mind’’ on the co-payment plan prior to the Audit Commission interim report. That report was delivered to the Abbott Government on Valentine’s Day.
Tony Abbott, like our own prime minister Stephen Harper, seems like a strong candidate for the Supari Prize—awarded as needed to a politician or bureaucrat promoting spectacularly unsanitary policies. The prize itself is a sack of hammers, tastefully tied with red tape.