A lot of people are pretty upset today about pap smears and the fact that other pathology tests will likely carry an up-front cost for patients come July.
The news that the government was cutting $650 million in bulk billing incentives over four years first broke before Christmas. But it sank in the Christmas lull.
Yesterday, I wrote an opinion piece telling our readers that the companies running pathology services, as well as doctors and pathologists are all saying this will lead to an upfront cost — $30 is the likely estimate — for patients who want things like blood and urine tests, pap smears or imaging services.
That story led to a petition cropping up online overnight, asking the government to reverse its decision on the cuts.
The petition already has more than 35,000 signatures and climbing.
But Health Minister Sussan Ley is upset too.
Today she released a statement saying: “There are no changes proposed [in the budget update] regarding the cost of either receiving or delivering a physical pap smear examination undertaken by your GP or specialist, nor their billing practices.
“Nor is there any reduction in the dollar-value of the Medicare rebate a patient receives to undertake associated pathology tests…
“Alleged claims by pathologists about the potential cost of raising their prices as a result of any changes are also misleading, because they have omitted the value of the Medicare rebate a patient receives from the government to help cover this very cost.”
After the changes were announced, Ley conceded on ABC Radio National that the cut could cost patients money.