Natarsha Wotherspoon has completed an online petition against upfront payment for blood tests.
Natarsha Wotherspoon has completed an online petition against upfront payment for blood tests. Marc Stapelberg

Bulk numbers band together to fight cuts to bulk billing

OVER 420,000 Australians have banded together to back up pathology centres in their fight against cuts to bulk billing incentive payments.

Local collection centres advertised their Don’t Kill Bulk Bill petition for patients to sign and health centres to get on board.

Natarsha Wotherspoon of Lismore chemist, Blooms, wanted to help.

“It’s hard to come up with money for all your health needs ... How many people can’t afford to eat, let alone pay for a blood test?” She said.

“If you’re very ill and you’re getting blood tests two or three times a week, the last thing you need to be thinking about is how you are going to pay for all these tests.”

Ms Wotherspoon and the other chemist staff collectively gathered over 2000 signatures.

The Turnbull Government announced on December 17 it would scrap payments to pathologists and diagnostic imaging services when they bulk billed patients, saving $650 million over four years.

Health Minister Sussan Ley said the sector could absorb the losses, but pathologists disagreed.

President of Pathology Australia Nick Musgrave said pathologists would have to charge patients a co-payment.

“The sector cannot absorb these cuts to funding and providers have indicated they’ll have to introduce co-payments,” he said.

All 5500 private pathology collection centres across Australia joined in to support the Don’t Kill Bulk Bill campaign.

“The public are appalled at the government’s cuts to funding of their tests,” Dr Musgrave said.

“Like us, they are concerned about the prospect of paying for their tests and the prospect that people may not have their tests because they have to pay an out-of-pocket cost.”

Dr Musgrave said each year, one in two people will require some sort of pathology service.

The Gratton Institute, proposed their own solutions to save the government and taxpayers money.

Its report, Blood Money, says the way we pay for pathology could be improved to allow the government and taxpayers a share in savings made in the industry.

The report also suggests abolishing co-payments and introducing price competition.



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