State ‘hospital tax’ fears

Opposition Health spokesman Roger Cook with Armadale MLA Tony Buti. Picture: Marcelo Palacios www.communitypix.com.au d421096
Opposition Health spokesman Roger Cook with Armadale MLA Tony Buti. Picture: Marcelo Palacios www.communitypix.com.au d421096

The MPs stood outside Armadale Kelmscott Memorial Hospital last Friday and encouraged residents to sign an online petition to stop the State Government introducing a ‘tax’ ” a payment for treatment at hospital emergency departments.

Dr Buti said Premier Colin Barnett had threatened to start charging patients for treatment at hospital emergency departments after the Federal Government’s introduction of a $7 tax on GP visits.

‘The new tax would impact local residents needing emergency treatment at Armadale Hospital,’ Dr Buti said. ‘Charging fees at emergency departments could result in parents of sick children or the elderly deciding not to seek medical care and that could have serious consequences.’

Dr Buti said the tax would attack Medicare and undermine Australia’s internationally-regarded universal health care system.

‘Doctors and nurses know that collecting revenue is bad for patients and would add unnecessary bureaucracy to our public hospitals.’

Health Minister Kim Hames said there was no such thing as a hospital tax being proposed by the State Government.

He said the GP co-payment was proposed by the Federal Government as part of the Federal Budget, which would need to be pass legislation before it would take effect from July 1 2015.

‘The WA Government will not be hurried into a decision on whether to implement patient co-payments for GP-type patients attending emergency departments,’ he said.

Dr Hames said the Commonwealth had indicated it would allow the option of a state also imposing an emergency department fee.

He said the State Government’s preference was to monitor the effect the federal co-payment would have on emergency departments.

However, he said if demand increased to a point where it impacted on the ability to respond effectively to emergencies, then a form of state co-payment might be necessary for demand management.

– Armadale residents can sign the online petition at www.mark mcgowan.com.au/hospitaltax.