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GP tax to impact aged care, dementia and chronically ill

AGED care providers will be out of pocket hundreds of thousands of dollars and elderly people with chronic diseases will be impacted by the Federal Government's GP Tax.

This was the message from the Australian Medical Association, an Aged Care provider and politicians today.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten held a press conference this morning in Melbourne with Doutta Galla Aged Care Services chairman Bruce Mildenhall, who claimed the tax would leave the network of community-based aged care facilities out of pocket $800,000 a year.

"This is a dreadful attack on some of the most vulnerable and helpless people in our community," Mr Mildenhall said.

"As of tomorrow, $800,000 is being ripped out of our annual Budget. These services, these therapies that help provide a decent and reasonable quality of life for people who are severely affected by dementia are going to disappear unless severe cuts are made to other operating parts of our budget."

He said dementia was one of the top 10 health issues facing Australia.

Meanwhile, the Australian Medical Association and Katter Australia Party hit out at the impacts the tax will have on elderly people with chronic disease.

KAP leader Bob Katter
KAP leader Bob Katter Contributed

North Queensland communities who are already hurting due to the cost of petrol, insurance, rates and general health care will feel the pain at the hip pocket if there is any increase to the cost of prescription medications.

"Older people-and the demographic in Far North Queensland is very old people-can pay upwards of $100 a month for pharmaceuticals. Once you get over the age of 69 or 70, you are looking at $100 a month at least. We are talking about an extra $20 here.

"It does not sound like much, but if they pay, as we do in North Queensland, $3,500 for rates and $3,500 for insurance-that is half of their income gone on insurance and rates. I do not know how people are able to afford a feed! We have had two cases of people pulling their own teeth out with a pair of pliers because they could not afford a dentist" Mr Katter said.

 AMA Associate Professor Brian Owler said Australia's biggest challenge in terms of healthcare is going to be an ageing population and the burden of chronic disease.

"As we get older, we often have more chronic diseases. It doesn't mean people are sick, but it means their disease needs to be managed and the right person to do that is going to be the person's GP," he said.

"About 50% between the ages of 65 and 74 have five or more chronic diseases that need to be managed.

"I don't think there's any evidence to say at the moment that we have a widespread problem with unnecessary visits to the GP from elderly folk that are going to simply have a chat."

Topics:  australian medical association, bob katter, gp tax




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