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Action speaks louder than words on health.

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Media Release

Bob Baldwin MP

Federal Member for Paterson


The Federal Member for Paterson, Bob Baldwin, said his efforts to attract doctors to Karuah, Medowie and Lemon Tree Passage, are all evidence of why a member who is active is better than an opposition full of hot air - an opposition that would not support safety net measures that would save patients thousands of dollars in out of hospital costs.

“Labor say they have a plan for increasing doctors across Australia, but the reality is, they intend to rip them out of communities and place doctors into areas where they feel they can make political gain through their Medicare hot spot teams,” Mr Baldwin said.

“Unless Labor have a magic wand, they can’t produce more doctors out of thin air. Doctors have to be trained for several years before they can practice and the Australian Government has already announced an additional 1,500 doctors and 1,600 practice nurses by 2006-07. This need for training more doctors has come about as a result of Labor actually failing to increase doctor numbers when in Government and as a result, we are now in a position of having to fix their incompetence.”

Mr Baldwin highlighted recent quotes from local doctors who were critical of Labor’s health policy. In a letter to the editor to the Port Stephens Examiner this year, Raymond Terrace’s Dr Chris Boyle said: “I was very interested to read what the ALP policy on the Medicare bulk billing team is. It does not involve new GPs. It simply involves moving GPs from private practice to public service - not one new GP, simply moving the deckchairs of the Titanic.”

Dr Arn Sprogis, from the Hunter Urban Division of General Practice was quoted in the Port Stephens Examiner this year also as saying “If Mark Latham thinks he can find two doctors to come to Raymond Terrace, it shows how little he knows about health.”

Dr Sprogis also told radio 2HD in October 2003: “I think it’s one of the most bizarre notions I’ve seen in the 12 or 13 years I’ve been in this game. I think the Labor Party’s lost the plot completely to be quite honest…it seems now if your poor turn left and sit in the emergency department ready for your hot spot Medicare team and if you’re working then turn right and go to your GP.”

Mr Baldwin said Labor cost patients thousands of dollars when they failed to support measures under MedicarePlus, for out of hospital expenses. He said the Government is


adding $2.85 billion as part of MedicarePlus to strengthen Australia’s health system, which involves: • An additional payment of $5 for GPs for every bulk billed visit by a child under 16 or by one of the 7 million Australians covered by a commonwealth concession


• Patients who aren’t bulk billed can choose to have their Medicare claim lodged electronically at a doctors surgery and their rebate paid to their bank account, which removes the need to visit a Medicare office for claims. • The addition of a safety net that will protect all Australians from major out-of-

pocket costs for medical services provided outside hospital. It covers 80% of the out-of-pocket costs for medical services provided outside hospital for concession card holders and families receiving Family Tax Benefit (A) once a $500 threshold

per individual or family per year is reached, which covers 12 million Australians, including about 4 out of 5 every family with a child and all other Australians once a threshold of $1,000 per individual or family per year is reached, which covers another 8 million people. • 1,500 more doctors and 1,600 more practice nurses by 2006-07 • More support for chronic conditions, with certain allied services that are delivered

on behalf of a GP under a care plan being covered by Medicare, including treatment for serious dental problems, psychologist or dietician. • More doctors for aged care with a new Medicare item to cover comprehensive medical checks for aged care home residents. GPs will be funded to provide

services to residents of aged care homes who do not have, or cannot access, their regular doctor including in an emergency or after hours.

The following chart compares Coalition and Labor policies on health:

Policy Coalition Government Labor

Medicare stays Yes Yes

More bulk billing incentives Yes Yes

No need to line up at a Medicare office Yes No

Support for 1,500 more doctors, especially in outer suburbs and regional areas Yes No

Funding the services of 1,600 more practice nurses Yes No

Comprehensive Safety Net for out-of-pocket medical costs for all Australians Yes No

Support for more doctors for aged care residents Yes No

Keep the Private Health Insurance 30% Rebate Yes Unknown