No speculation on co-payment

PREMIER Will Hodgman has refused to say whether the state government will introduce a co- payment to Tasmania's public hospitals after Tuesday night's federal budget.

The Commonwealth has removed a restriction that stopped states from setting up a co- payment for GP-like presentations in emergency departments, in an effort to lessen the potential impact of an incoming GP co- payment. Asked whether the state government would consider charging hospital patients with a co-payment, Mr Hodgman said he would not speculate on "matters that may or may not be subject to ongoing deliberations about the state budget".

Australian Medical Association state president Tim Greenaway said the organisation would strongly oppose a hospital co- payment.

"It would be a nightmare to administer - who would decide on the criteria of a GP presentation?" Dr Greenaway said.

"Equally, it's inequitable. Some members of society would be seen for nothing and others would be charged for attendance, and that goes against the ethos of a public hospital."

However, Dr Greenaway said he didn't know how the state would cope with the fallout from the Abbott government's $7 fee for GP visits, increased $5 fee for prescription medication and $7 fee for out-of-hospital and diagnostic and pathology services.

"When this has been done elsewhere it's meant that the people with chronic disease tend to avoid going to the doctor and either present later and with more acute illnesses, or turn up in the emergency departments," Dr Greenaway said.

"There's no capacity in the emergency departments for us to see these additional patients."

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation state secretary Neroli Ellis said the ANMF would have to consider any proposal to introduce a hospital co-payment, but it sounded inequitable.

Health and Community Services Union state secretary Tim Jacobson said a hospital co- payment would be "wrong", but he didn't think the state government had a choice given its financial outlook.


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