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Monday, 7 July 2014
Page: 4194

Budget


Senator NASH (New South WalesDeputy Leader of The Nationals in the Senate and Assistant Minister for Health) (14:14): No, I cannot confirm those figures, because, as I have indicated to the chamber on several occasions, it is a matter for the clinicians whether or not they choose to charge the co-payment.

Opposition senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order on my left!

Senator NASH: Those opposite might not like that answer, but it is indeed a fact and allows me to directly answer the question. It is a matter for the clinicians whether or not they choose to charge the co-payment. As somebody with a family history of breast cancer, I am the person most likely to be aware of these issues and to not trivialise it and to be well aware of what is necessary. So it is entirely a matter for the clinicians whether or not they charge the GP co-payment.




Senator McLUCAS (Queensland) (14:15): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Can the minister confirm that, if a woman tests positive for breast cancer, she will incur further significant out-of-pocket costs associated with visits to her GP and for diagnostic imaging?


Senator NASH (New South WalesDeputy Leader of The Nationals in the Senate and Assistant Minister for Health) (14:15): There have been a range of changes in the budget, as those opposite understand very well. They also are aware that it is a matter for the clinicians, as I have said and will continue to repeat, as to whether or not they charge the co-payment in those co-payment arrangements. This government has had to make some tough decisions to ensure that we have some sustainability for the health system into the future—something that the previous Labor government neglected to do.


Senator McLUCAS (Queensland) (14:16): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Won't the government's GP tax act as a barrier to receiving life-saving treatment for some women who simply cannot afford to pay?


Senator NASH (New South WalesDeputy Leader of The Nationals in the Senate and Assistant Minister for Health) (14:16): We have been very clear about the changes in the budget as they relate to health, and the reasons why. The reason why we have had to make some tough decisions is the budget mess that the previous Labor government gave us. Those opposite know very well that it is a matter for clinicians to determine whether or not they will charge the co-payment, and they also know and are well aware of the concessional arrangements that apply to many of the patients.