Pa­tients put off by freeze: La­bor

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - NEWS -

AUS­TRALIANS were avoid­ing doc­tor ap­point­ments due to the freeze on Medi­care pay­ments, ac­cord­ing to Op­po­si­tion spokes­woman on health Cather­ine King.

Ms King ad­dressed local health pro­fes­sion­als at the Park Med­i­cal Cen­tre in Vic­to­ria Park to voice her con­cerns for the fu­ture of the health sec­tor if the freeze con­tin­ued.

“The Gov­ern­ment has frozen the Medi­care Ben­e­fits Sched­ule (MBS) for an- other two years. That’s worse than Tony Ab­bott’s $7 GP tax. In fact it’s dou­ble,” Ms King said. “It will mean prac­tices like the Park Med­i­cal Cen­tre will have to drop their bulk billing and start to charge pa­tients a fee.”

Last week the Aus­tralian La­bor Party an­nounced it would re­store the in­dex­a­tion of the MBS next Jan­uary should it win the July 2 elec­tion.

“We are al­ready see­ing pa­tients who won’t see a doc­tor be­cause of out-of-pocket costs and they won’t get their scripts filled be­cause of the costs,” Ms King said.

“Putting a bar­rier be­tween peo­ple and a general prac­tice – the core of Medi­care – is re­ally a false econ­omy.

“Peo­ple will end up much sicker and it will cost the sys­tem more in the long run.”

But Mem­ber for Swan, Lib­eral Steve d453722 Irons, said the Turn­bull gov­ern­ment recog­nised the need to keep Medi­care sus­tain­able and had taken sen­si­ble, fair and re­spon­si­ble mea­sures to main­tain it.

“In spite of La­bor’s scare­mon­ger­ing and hy­per­ven­ti­la­tion, Aus­tralia en­joys a high and grow­ing bulk-billing rate,” he said.

Mr Irons said 10 years ago the MBS cost $8 bil­lion. This year it was $20 bil­lion and in 10 years it would be about $34 bil­lion.

“In 2013-14, 275 mil­lion Medi­care ser­vices were pro­vided free to the pa­tient,” he said. “This cost the tax­payer more than $12.8 bil­lion.

“In 2014-15, Aus­tralians ac­cessed more than one mil­lion MBS ser­vices a day; this is the first time this level has been reached in the his­tory of Medi­care.”

Pic­ture: Marie Nirme

Cather­ine King meets group of­fi­cials.

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