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Minister changes but the issue remains the same.



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JULIA GILLARD M.P.

MEDIA RELEASE

Shadow Minister for Health

MINISTER CHANGES BUT THE ISSUE REMAINS THE SAME

Bulk billing figures for the June 2003 quarter for every Australian electorate were released today and reveal the same story as previous quarters - the Howard Government’s wilful neglect and deliberate frontal assault on Medicare is destroying the ability of Australians to see a doctor for free when they and their families are sick. In a supreme stroke of irony, the outgoing Minister for Health, Senator Patterson, released these seat-by-seat breakdowns on Medicare’s 20th birthday.

The figures show a decline in bulk billing rates across the vast majority of Australian electorates and give the lie to Prime Minister John Howard’s claim today that “the Australian Government remains firmly committed to the principles of Medicare”. The Government’s so-called “Fairer Medicare” package will drive bulk billing even lower because doctors will be given financial incentives to bulk bill concession cardholders but given the green light to charge higher fees for everyone else.

These figures demonstrate why Australia needs a Government committed to Medicare and to restoring bulk billing, something only Labor will do.

Labor’s bulk billing plan will restore bulk billing by: • immediately lifting the Medicare patient rebate for all bulk billed consultations to 95 percent of the scheduled fee - an average increase of $3.35 per consultation; • subsequently lifting the Medicare patient rebate for all bulk billed consultations to

100 percent of the scheduled fee - an average increase of $5.00 per consultation. • offering doctors powerful financial incentives of up to $22,500 to meet bulk billing targets which are realistic and achievable; and • providing for more GPs in the areas that need them and more nurses to assist GPs in

their work.

These measures are the first step towards Labor’s objective of lifting the average national rate of bulk billing back to 80% or more.

I also encourage all Australians to contact Labor’s Save Medicare Hotline with their own Medicare story, either by phoning 1800 006 269, or emailing save.medicare@alp.org.au or log on to www.alp.com and follow the prompts.

NB: June quarter electorate figures available on request.

For further information contact: 1 October 2003

Julia Gillard MP 0417 361 637 Jamie Snashall 0407 438 746