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Howard Government vulnerable on health.

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Howard Government Vulnerable On Health Jenny Macklin - Shadow Minister for Health

Media Statement - 23 January 2001

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The Howard Government's poor record on health makes it vulnerable at the next election, according to Shadow Health Minister Jenny Macklin.

"The evidence is very clear. Waiting times for treatment have never been longer, public hospitals are in crisis whilst bulk billing rates are in decline. Medicare has never faced such threats to its future.

"If the Howard Government is re-elected the "Americanisation" of our health system will be completed. Just like in America, an ambulance driver will check for your credit card before they check your vital signs.

"The public are sick of hearing Dr Wooldridge bragging about "record spending" when an independent inquiry has found that his health spending has failed to keep up with inflation and population growth.

"Labor has announced two major planks to its new health policy - Medicare Alliance and Medicare After-Hours.

"The Medicare Alliance is a signed agreement between Kim Beazley and all the State Labor leaders. It commits both Federal and State Labor Governments to a decade of real funding growth for public hospitals and creates an integrated health funding system to stop the Federal and State Government fights over health funding.

"Labor's Medicare-After-Hours policy is striking a chord with people who are waiting far too long for medical care either at night or on the weekend. Parents need accessible after hours GP services and the current system is failing them. Everyone knows a mother or father with a sick child who has had to wait hours in a busy emergency department or at home for a GP. The system is not working for them.

The Medicare-After-Hours plan has attracted widespread support - including from the AMA. It will include a 24 hour medical advice service staffed by nurses and supervised by doctors, which will give immediate advice on the best treatment options and where to seek further care.

"Dr Wooldridge will be best remembered for having presided over the MRI scan scam, Australia's biggest ever fraud against Medicare in which not one of the people involved were prosecuted. He only kept his job because he couldn't remember what he had said. That is a very poor record," Ms Macklin said.

Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.