Meanwhile, chronically ill patients have reacted with confusion and dismay at both the Medicare rebate freeze and the threat of pathology bulk-billing incentive cuts.
Alison Park, an Arthritis Australia consumer representative in Tasmania, said people may be forced to prioritise treatment and management plans based on financial pressures.
“People will have to make choices, like do you get your drugs, do you eat or do you go to the doctor – and I’m not the only one,” she told the limbic.
“While they want to be doing the right thing, it does come down to the dollars.”
As a self-funded retiree with inflammatory arthritis, Ms Park is on multiple drug therapy that includes biologics, so she must have regular blood tests and already spend up to $400 a month on medication alone.
She went for her usual test just days after the Federal Budget was handed down, but was unable to get any answers from her pathology service.
“They said, ‘we keep getting asked’ and they have absolutely no idea,” Ms Park said. “It’s like a great mud puddle to be perfectly honest.”
She fears the moves will put more pressure on doctors, particularly GPs, and drive more people into already overloaded state hospital systems.
“There needs to be urgent clarification on how this is going to affect patients and how much it is going to cost,” she said.