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Riverina highest increase in GP co-payments.



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Senator Ursula Stephens

MEDIA RELEASE

February 13, 2003

Riverina Highest Increase in GP Co-payments

The cost of seeing a doctor in the Riverina has increased by a massive 32.5%, more than five times the rate of inflation, over the past two years, Senator Ursula Stephens said today.

Questions asked by Labor Senators during Senate Estimates this week have revealed that Riverina has over the past year suffered the largest increase in doctor’s co-payments of any Federal electorate. The average co-payment in the Riverina rose from $10.48 to $12.93, or 23.4%, within a year.

‘This is a massive increase, and is part of a worrying trend’, Senator Ursula Stephens said. ‘Not only are bulk billing rates falling rapidly under this government, but the cost of visiting a doctor who doesn’t bulk bill is also on the rise.’

‘This is making life tougher, especially for families who may have more than one child who is sick at the same time.’

At the Estimates, the Health Department revealed figures detailing the electorate-by-electorate increases in GP co-payments and GP bulk-billing rates from September 2000 to September 2002.

‘These figures show that the Howard Government does not care about affordable health care. Howard is on the record as saying that ‘he wanted to tear Medicare apart’ and put an end to bulk billing. His Government is now achieving this through sheer neglect’ Senator Stephens said.

‘People should not have to worry about whether they can afford to go to a doctor when they are ill,’ she argued, ‘access to health care for all should by a top priority for any government - but it seems to have ended up on the bottom of the Howard Government’s list.’

Contact Julieanne Lamond on 02 6277 3333 or 0407 953 226.

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