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Bulk-billing plummets under Howard.



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NEWS RELEASE

 

THE HON MICHAEL LEE MP

MEMBER FOR DOBELL

SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH

 

 

Bulk-Billing Plummets Under Howard

 

As sure as night follows day, if John Howard is re-elected he will abolish Medicare, according to shadow health minister, Michael Lee .

 

The Howard Government has already done serious damage to Medicare and massive declines in bulk-billing rates are the proof.

 

Government figures show bulk-billing declined in 97 out of 148 Federal electorates in the year to March 1998. (See attached list.)

 

The worst declines in each State were:

 

Moore (WA): -12.6% 

Cowper (NSW): -9.6% 

Bendigo (VIC): -8.7% 

Bass (TAS): -4.4%

Boothby (SA): -4.3%

Groom (QLD): -4.2%

 

Nationally, bulk-billing rates fell for 10 of the 12 months to March 1998 by an average of 0. 7%. This means 700,000 fewer consultations were bulk-billed.

 

On average there are around 600,000 GP services per electorate per year, so each 1% drop means 6,000 patients have to pay more.

 

Every time a GP switches from bulk-billing to charging the AMA fee, their patients have to pay $37 up front and get only $21 back from Medicare.

 

These massive falls indicate John Howard’s back door attacks on Medicare are working.

 

In 1996 John Howard promised to keep Medicare because the opinion polls told him Australians were committed to it. Since then he has done everything he can to undermine and destroy Medicare by stealth.

* He squeezed GP rebates, saving $60m a year, driving down bulk-billing.

* He closed 43 Medicare Offices, making it much harder for people to claim their refund.

 

Medicare is too important to trust to John Howard — he has already started pulling it apart and in a second term he would surely finish the job.

 

31 August 1998

 

Contact: MICHAEL LEE 02 6277 4221 Parliament House 0417 277 477 Mobile

 

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