Abbott signals pensioners may pay GP co-payment

PRIME Minister Tony Abbott has given the strongest indication yet that pensioners will not be exempt from the GP co-payment scheme should the government get the necessary numbers next week to pass it through the Senate.

The scheme, which will see patients contribute $7 when they visit the GP, was flagged as a way for those being bulk-billed to contribute to their healthcare and also as a tool for minimising so-called unnecessary visits.

The proposal has found little favour amongst the general public and medical groups who fear the under privileged will be disadvantaged while the government has also faced censure in parliament.

But Mr Abbott is confident that he can negotiate his way through the crossbench and eventually gain the nod for this controversial undertaking.

"The system is becoming unsustainable, it is vital that we try to ensure that there are sensible price signals in the system, and if it's right and proper to have a modest co-payment for the PBS why not have a modest co-payment for Medicare," he said on 4BC today.

"We want to bring sensible policy in and we'll talk to the crossbench about what they may or may not be able to accept themselves.

"We don't exempt pensioners from a PBS co-payment. Their co-payment is normally a little less than the co-payment that the public faces. So if we don't exempt pensioners from the PBS co-payment, why should they be entirely exempted from the Medicare co-payment?"