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Australians already slugged $123m for Medicare changes.



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Media Release

BOB McMULLAN MP SHADOW TREASURER SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE ARTS

MEMBER FOR FRASER

30 April 2003

AUSTRALIANS ALREADY SLUGGED $123 M FOR MEDICARE CHANGES

The erosion of Medicare under the Howard government has already cost families $123 million per year, and the latest changes will drive that burden higher.

Australians will see through John Howard’s claim that his changes to Medicare amount to a ‘reform’. Mr Howard’s goal isn’t reform: he wants to kill off Medicare.

His real agenda is clear from an analysis of figures showing the rising amounts patients have had to pay for visits to doctors under the Howard government.

The government is pursuing an ideological agenda of shifting costs and responsibilities from government to individuals, undermining a crucial value in Australian society - fairness.

In 1995-96, Labor’s last year in office, Australians paid $164 million to their GPs in addition to the rebate paid by Medicare. In 2001-02 the total of this ‘co-payment’ had risen 75 per cent, to $287 million -- and will be substantially higher this year.

This means the cost burden on patients has leapt by $123 million. Australians are paying more for health because the government has overseen a slump in bulk-billing, a problem that the latest changes will not solve.

The latest changes to Medicare will further increase the burden on families, because key aspects of Medicare designed to control costs will be eroded. A bigger share of the Australian economy will be spent on health without any improvement in health outcomes.

This is the same pattern that is occurring in education, where the burden of student contributions to tertiary education has surged under the Howard government.

In a repeat of its approach to Medicare, the government’s changes to the HECS scheme have substantially increased the costs to individuals and reduced the cost to government.

Most Australian families are getting less and less help from the government for services once considered an essential part of the government’s role.

No wonder household debt is rising to record levels. Families are being forced to borrow more to pay basic costs of health and education.

Further information: Robert Garran (02) 6277 4803, 0419 692 504

TELEPHONE: (02) 6277 4803 ã FACSIMILE: (02) 6277 8496