Doctors go public over fears of Medicare levy hike

Amelia Brace

Doctors have gone public with their fears of a Medicare levy rise in the federal budget.

They’re worried taxpayers will be forced to hand over even more for health care; potentially costing families hundreds more a year.

The incoming health minister Greg Hunt say his commitment to Medicare is a personal one.

“I have, and we have, a rock solid commitment to the future of Medicare,” he said.

Doctors have demanded the government uses the increase to fund public hospitals. Photo: 7 News

But Tony Bartone from the Australian Medical Association is not so sure.

“We’ve heard many rumours that the government is looking at an increase to the Medicare levy,” he said.

Taxpayers currently contribute two per cent of their income to the levy, which raises about $15 billion a year.

The AMA fears the May budget will include a five per cent increase, which could deliver the government $4 billion in extra revenue.

Shadow Minister Catherine King said the government was scrambling.

“Having cut so deeply into health, they are having to scramble around and find ways to replace the money,” she said.

Incoming health minister Greg Hunt says he knows of no plans to increase the levy. Photo; 7 News

In fact, the AMA wants the government to do just that, using its pre-budget submission to demand any extra revenue is spent on health instead of improving the budget bottom line.

“We’re asking the government to channel every single dollar of that increase into Medicare and public hospital funding,” Tony Bartone said.

Greg Hunt told 7 News he was not aware of any plans or proposals to change the levy.

Treasurer Scott Morrison said he would not speculate about what was in his budget.