Patients put off by freeze: Labor
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.”
Catherine King meets group officials.