New AMA boss will fight co-payments

With parliamentarians returning to Canberra today, Labor, the Greens and key crossbenchers lined up to oppose the contentious $7 Medicare co-payment, while Treasurer Joe Hockey said the fee had to stay to fund the proposed medical research future fund.

After being elected to the AMA presidency at the weekend, Professor Owler told the media the peak doctors’ group did not oppose the co-payment in principle but it saw a lot wrong with the impact on the poor, the vulnerable and the chronically ill.

The Sydney-based neurosurgeon slammed Mr Hockey’s suggestion that GPs could use the $2 of the co-payment the government’s plan would allow them to keep, to supplement the cost of bulk-billing hardship cases.

“The idea… that you’re going to use that money as a slush fund to institute the government’s social welfare policy, I think, is insulting to general practitioners and other practitioners,” he said.