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Doctor fees set to rise in November

(image credit - canberra times)

The cost of seeing a doctor is about to go up but the federal government insists it has nothing to do with its extended freeze on Medicare rebates.

The Australian Medical Association has blamed the freeze on its recommendation that GPs lift fees for a standard consultation by $2 to $78 from November.

Medicare rebates will be frozen at $37 until 2020, saving the government nearly $1 billion.

"The freeze is an enormous burden on hardworking GPs," AMA vice-president Tony Bartone said on Wednesday.

"Practices cannot continue absorbing the increasing costs of providing quality care year after year."

But Health Minister Sussan Ley said it was up to doctors how much they charge patients.

"We respect and value that doctors are small businesses and they have scope to set their fees according to their wishes, their business model and their patient cohort," she told reporters at Parliament House.

Ms Ley said the prime minister's pre-election declaration that no one would pay more to see a GP because of the rebate freeze was underpinned by a record-high bulk billing rate.

However, Dr Bartone said it was now inevitable many GPs would review their decision to bulk bill some patients.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said GPs were being squeezed to breaking point.

"The GPs have tried to hold the line but they are finding it too hard," he told reporters in Canberra.

"In my conversations with GPs around the country ... the GPs are saying. 'Bill we don't want to charge our patients more but Malcolm Turnbull is giving us no choice'."

article source - "AAP"

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