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Medicare's 20th Birthday ...........will it be the last?



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LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

JOINT STATEMENT BY

THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITON, THE HON SIMON CREAN MP, AND THE SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH, JULIA GILLARD MP

MEDICARE'S 20TH BIRTHDAY...WILL IT BE THE LAST?

Australia's universal health scheme Medicare celebrates its 20th birthday today, but its future is under threat.

Medicare is the most effective, popular and fair Government program ever implemented.

It was created by Labor to ensure that all Australians have access to a doctor when they're sick, regardless of their ability to pay.

Under the Howard Government, bulk billing rates have declined dramatically and out-of-pocket expenses have risen. If the Government's so-called "Fairer Medicare" were implemented, bulk billing rates would fall even further and costs would rise substantially.

And all this at a time when the Treasurer is crowing about a surplus this year of $7.5 billion! This is the highest taxing government in Australia's history, yet it will not act to save Medicare.

Prime Minister John Howard has never believed in a universal health care system, and has now appointed his attack dog Tony Abbott to kill it off.

On this 20th anniversary, Labor calls on all Australians to join the fight to save Medicare.

Only Labor will protect Medicare and ensure it survives to celebrate many more birthdays to come.

1 OCTOBER 2003