Federal opposition leader Bill Shorten was in Harris Park today to speak against the government’s plan to charge patients $7 for GP visits.
Mr Shorten toured the Priority Medical Centre from 1pm and spoke with doctors and patients about the potential impact of what he called the government’s ‘‘GP tax’’.
‘‘Your GPs will be tax collectors now,’’ Mr Shorten said.
‘‘It’s effectively putting a barrier in front of every doctor’s surgery in Australia.’’
Mr Shorten said that in Parramatta alone, conservative estimates had shown that families would ‘‘have to find another $10 million at least just to go and see the doctor’’.
‘‘This will mean that people get sicker, not better.’’
During the visit, GP Dr Ruchika Verma told Mr Shorten she was concerned the co-payments would encourage more people to self-diagnose in an attempt to avoid the cost.
Practice manager Rosemary Coluccio said many of the Marion Street medical centre’s patients had been ‘‘very anxious’’ about the government’s plans.
‘‘We’ve had people come in and say ‘when is it going to start? Should I do all my health checks now?’,’’ Ms Coluccio said.
‘‘In the area, because of the type of population we have, we have a lot of young families, struggling young families.
‘‘It makes them very anxious,’’ she said.
‘‘It’s going to affect our patients down the line... We have mental health issues here because we do have a lot of refugees coming in.’’
Patient Saif Rahimi, 42, of Harris Park, told the Sun he shared Labor’s stance on Medicare co-payments.
‘‘I’m happy to see him [Mr Shorten] here today.
‘‘We hope Labor and Greens will stop this $7,’’ Mr Rahimi said.
‘‘Mr Joe Hockey said there’s no tax, but it is a cut.
‘‘Those who come here week to week, it will affect them. The regular patients, it will be difficult for them.’’
Federal Labor MP Julie Owens told the Sun co-payments would mean ‘‘more red tape, more bureaucracy and less patients’’ for the health care system.