A controversial plan to charge a A$7 (£3.7; $5.70) fee to see a GP has been scrapped by the Australian government.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the proposal – first unveiled in May – did not have the support of the senate.

But the government will cut the amount it pays to GPs to see adult patients by A$5, with doctors to decide whether or not to pass that cost on to patients.

The government had introduced the payment in an attempt to shift some of its health care costs onto consumers.

The original plan was unveiled in the May budget, immediately drawing strong criticism across the country.

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How does Australian Medicare work?

Healthcare is provided by both private and government institutions.
The government funds its Medicare system via a 1.5% levy on everyone except low-income earners, with the balance being provided by the government from general revenue.
An additional levy of 1% is imposed on high-income earners if they do not have private health insurance.
As well as Medicare, the government funds a separate Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme that subsidises a range of prescription medications.
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Mr Abbot said he was now offering “a new and improved proposal which indicates that this is a government which is always capable of listening, learning and improving”.

He said there would no change to “bulk building” fees – where doctors charge the government directly for a patient’s visit – for children under 16, pensioners or veterans.

However, adults who do not receive health concessions from the government would potentially face a $5 visit fee, if their healthcare provider chose to charge a so-called “co-payment” to make up for the reduced government rebate.

“In the end, though, this is a question for the doctors, and what we’re saying to the doctors is for adults who aren’t on concession cards, we don’t think it’s unreasonable for you to charge a co-payment,” Mr Abbott said.

He said the changes would save A$3.5bn over five years.

Sources : www.bbc.com