Health Minister Sussan Ley will be approached by pathology industry service providers after she defended Scott Morrison’s policy of scrapping pathology bulk-billing incentives. The industry has warned Ley that the reduced incentives can kill off small service providers. Moreover, the service providers have also stated that they will be left with no other choice but to charge a co-payment fee for services such as blood test.

According to The Guardian, the policy is set to scrap pathology service incentives and trim down bulk-billing incentives from “15% of the Medicare benefits schedule fee to 10% for diagnostics.” The declaration has raised alarm bells for the industry and may have dire consequences.

Read more on Savings from Medicare review to help budget repair: Health Minister Sussan Ley.

Debra Graves, chief executive of the Royal College of Pathologists Australasia, told Guardian Australia that she is totally against Ley’s claims that pathology service providers were misusing the rebate to boost their own profits. She also said that she wants to meet the health minister simply to explain her how the system works.

Colin Goldschmidt, chief executive officer of Sonic Healthcare, expressed concern over the fate of small-scale service providers as they might go out of business as a result of the rebate reduction. According to him, the only option left is to charge patients more. He also pointed out that the changes in the policy are directed towards patients who are bulk-billed.

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Ley on the other hand has simply raised the question of where the $500 million go that was provided by the government to increase bulk-billing rate.

“So my question to providers is if the government has given you $500 million to increase your bulk-billing rate and you haven’t, where has that money gone?,” Ley asked.

Ley promised that the government stands by the patients and that they are not here for the bottom-line of companies.

The incentive to boost bulk-billing was introduced in 2009-10 so that pathology and imaging services could result in budget savings of $650.4 million over four years, reports

Although an emergency meeting has been called by the pathology industry with Ley, the government policy will surely face a lot of opposition with both Labor and Greens suggesting they will oppose the measure.

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