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Costello attacks Medicare bulk-billing.

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Media Release









“On Alan Jones this morning Treasurer Peter Costello launched an attack on Medicare, claiming free medical care, or bulk-billing, is a ‘problem” according to shadow health minister, Michael Lee.


“The Treasurer agreed with Mr. Jones that, ‘too many Peter Costellos and Alan Jones’s were going into doctors’ surgeries .. for nothing’, saying:


‘Yeah, well I think this is one of the problems, that we have said to people that you can have medical care for free...’


“For the last two years, the Howard Government have been attacking Medicare and bulk-billing by stealth. Today the Treasurer let slip that a re-elected Coalition Government wo uld declare open war on Medicare.


“If bulk-billing is abolished people paying the AMA recommended fee of $37 will be $15 out-of-pocket even after they get their rebate.


“This is a chilling preview of the health system under a re-elected Coalition Government. It’s Fightback without the honesty.”


“Last week the Treasurer told John Laws he wanted to ‘re-engineer the whole health system’. Today he’s started to explain how.


“He is re-creating Fightback health policy — The abolition of bulk-billing and compulsory private health insurance for families earning more than $50,000.


“We already have private health insurance tax penalties for wealthy Australians, and the Government has refused to spend one dollar of that money on health. The only question about lower thresholds is whether they are announced before or after the election.


“Today’s statement by the Treasurer clarifies nothing. The Treasurer still has three questions to answer:

1. does he still think that free medical care is a ‘problem’?;

2 will he rul e out any co-payment for the full term of a re-elected Coalition Government?; and

3 why did he advocate, this morning, no-claim-bonuses for private health; and insurance when the idea was explicitly ruled out by the Productivity Commission, in his own portfolio, because it means the sicker you are the more you pay?


Michael Lee  02 6277 4221  Parliament House

0417 277 477  Mobile

21 May 1998