Many Indigenous people occupy an awkward place in the healthcare system, according to The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation
They may earn just a little too much to qualify for a concession card but still be poor enough to be forced to choose between paying for a visit to the doctor or groceries.
NACCHO says the new co-payment proposals will effectively mean a budget cut for their doctors.
“It is a budget cut both to GPs and private practice and it is a budget cut to Aboriginal community controlled health services”, said NACCHO CEO Lisa Briggs.
“We have said from the beginning we wouldn't carry on a co-payment”.
The Organisation said doctors will be put between a rock and a hard place: losing $5 in rebates from the Government and then having to choose whether they charge a $5 co-payment to non-concessional payments aged over 16.
Many aboriginal medical services have said they would refuse to pass on the Government’s original $7 co-payment, meaning they’d be losing potentially thousands of dollars.
Indigenous health services have been vital in closing the gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous life expectancies.
Now, NACCHO is seeking another meeting with the Health Minister to discuss how Close the Gap targets can still be met.
“What offsets are they prepared to talk about to make sure we still build on those gains?”, said Ms Briggs.