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Gold Card fraudulent - veterans' health care in jeopardy.

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Senator Mark Bishop Shadow Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Senator for Western Australia


Media Details: Senator Mark Bishop 0419 959 892 or Peter Reece 0414 677 441 Parliament House (02) 6277 3101

9th July, 2002 ref:m&pr 025/02

Gold Card Fraudulent - Veterans’ Health Care in Jeopardy

Veterans with a hard earned Gold Card giving them an entitlement to free medical care are finding that many doctors are now rejecting the card.

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) and the Returned Services League (RSL) have now confirmed suspicions that doctors and specialists are refusing to accept the Gold Card, forcing ill veterans to doctor shop, or to return to Medicare at considerable cost to veterans.

This is a breach of promise in that veterans with war caused injury and illness have for generations been cared for free of charge.

The Howard Government has completely failed veterans and has refused to enter into negotiations with the AMA to settle the stand off in the fee schedule for the treatment of veterans.

They are forcing veterans to leave their family doctor who knows their medical history, to find another who will start from scratch. This is not good health care, and veterans are suffering.

Ex prisoners of war, totally and permanently incapacitated (T&PI) and war widows, all of whom are automatically granted the Gold Card, are among those suffering the disruption to their health care.

This can be described as nothing other than a savings measure at the cost of veterans. There are 286 500 Gold Card (total health care) holders and almost 60 000 White Card ( specific disability) holders . The average cost for the Gold Card is projected at $10 050 per card in 2002/03, and $1400 for the White Card, with costs growing at 10% pa.. While the treatment population is reducing slowly with age, Gold Card numbers will be boosted dramatically as Vietnam veterans come on stream in the next decade.

This is a program of much greater scale than that first negotiated with the AMA and it is little wonder that doctors are no longer prepared to be charitable and bear the cost.

The Government must come clean and deal honourably with the medical profession, in the interests of veterans and widows in need of health care.