Doctors’ fees hot on the agenda again
RICHMOND MP Justine Elliot has pledged Labor will reverse Malcolm Turnbull’s GP co-payments if elected into government on July 2.
Medicare and bulk-billing are firming as crucial issues ahead of the poll, with the issue raised several times with Opposition leader Bill Shorten during his flying visit to Kingscliff on Sunday.
“Nobody wants to head down the same path as America when it comes to our health system,” Mrs Elliot said.
“That’s why a Shorten Labor Government will restore indexation of the Medicare Benefits Schedule from January 1, 2017.”
Mrs Elliot said the policy would apply to all services provided by GPs, allied health and medical specialists.
She said according to figures sourced by the opposition, Australian Medical Association president Brian Owler estimated this would cost patients up to $20 more for each GP visit.
But Nationals candidate Matthew Fraser dismissed the issue as a “scare campaign”.
“Don’t believe the fear campaign, the Coalition is investing on average $5 billion more into Medicare every year than Labor ever did,” Mr Fraser said.
“Investment will rise from $23 billion per year now to $26 billion per year by 2020-21. The Medicare rebate freeze was introduced by Labor in 2013.
“Bulk billing rates continue to reach historic highs under the Coalition, hitting nearly 85%, compared to an average of 79% during Labor’s six years in office.”
Greens’ candidate Dawn Walker said, if elected, she would not support any cuts to Medicare.
“We’re concerned the Coalition’s budget will cause a Medicare co-payment by stealth,” Mrs Walker said.
“Our policy is we support Medicare as a universal, publicly-funded health insurance policy for all Australians.”
Pauline Hanson Party candidate Neil Smith said Medicare should not be eroded and pathology costs should continue to be bulk-billed.
“If the government would just have the insight and the guts to completely revise the taxation system, we would have more than enough money to cover all these needs,” Mr Smith said.