Another co-payment proposal: $5 tax free

Mr Barnes delivered his latest serve in the co-payment debate at a Catholic Health Australia conference in Brisbane today, suggesting a $5 co-payment would strike a balance between the $7 fee proposed by the government and the $3.50 suggested by crossbench senator Bob Day.

He said the $5 payment should be handed tax free to GPs, rather than being channelled to a proposed $20 billion medical research fund.

“If we can keep our defence costs down by giving tax-free payments to the army reservists, why can’t we do it for the doctors at the front line of healthcare?” he told MO after his address.

This solution would still serve the national interest and it would obviate the need for a bulk-billing or low-gap incentive payment.

“I personally think, whatever is emerging with the co-payment, the idea of having bulk-billing or low-gap incentives is obsolete. I’d cut those rather than cut the MBS rebate itself.”