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John Howard's plan to destroy Medicare.



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LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

STATEMENT BY THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION THE HON SIMON CREAN MP

JOHN HOWARD’S PLAN TO DESTROY MEDICARE

John Howard’s deliberate destruction of Medicare is forcing Australian families to pay more and more for their health care, and putting an intolerable strain on our public hospitals.

Australians overwhelmingly support Medicare and the ability to have access to a doctor free of charge, regardless of income. Medicare is integral to the health of all Australians, rich and poor, and all Australians contribute to Medicare through their taxes and the Medicare levy.

But since John Howard came to office, rates of bulk billing have plummeted, especially in Tasmania, where bulk billing rates are among the lowest in the nation. Less than half of all GP services in Launceston are bulk billed.

At the same time, out-of-pocket costs are higher for families to see a doctor who doesn’t bulk bill. In Launceston, a family with two sick children could be up for around $74 for a doctor’s visit - and that’s before they have bought any medicines.

The erosion of the Medicare system is driving people who can’t afford a doctor to the Emergency Department of the local hospital. That puts pressure on the public hospital system. Here at Launceston General doctors are concerned that too many people avoid visiting the doctor and then end up, much sicker, in hospital.

Now John Howard is proposing that working families whose annual income is over $30,000 will not have access to bulk billing at all, and he is justifying that by allowing doctors to charge at the surgery any excess over $25.05. He thinks Australian families won’t notice how quickly medical costs will then rise.

He thinks that Australian healthcard holders won’t notice that his proposals will reduce Medicare to a tattered, second class safety net.

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And he thinks that everyone else will be happy to accept an Americanised user-pays health system where the cost of private health insurance continues to soar and a credit card is worth more than a Medicare card.

Labor will fight to protect Medicare and restore bulk billing. Labor will not allow John Howard to overturn the universality of Medicare and have Australian families pay even more out-of-pocket for the healthcare they already purchase through their taxes.

LAUNCESTON 17 APRIL 2003

Bulk billing rates in 2002: Bennelong vs Launceston The view from Kirribilli looks just fine

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Bennelong Launceston

Bulk billing rates (%)

T he bulk billing figure f o r Launceston is theat for the Federal electorate of Bass