DOCTORS’ FRIEND: An overwhelming number of GPs have backed the health and Medicare policies of the ALP’s leader Bill Shorten over those of the LNP.
DOCTORS’ FRIEND: An overwhelming number of GPs have backed the health and Medicare policies of the ALP’s leader Bill Shorten over those of the LNP. ALEX ELLINGHAUSEN

Doctors support ALP on health and Medicare

AN OVERWHELMING number of doctors surveyed in a recent poll have backed Labor’s health policies over those of the LNP.

The poll, conducted by Australian Doctor with more than 750 doctors, found that 78% backed the ALP’s policies.

But LNP Senator Barry O’Sullivan has accused the AMA of riding on the coat tails of the ALP’s “Medicare scare campaign”.

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) is distributing a flyer put out by the AMA which states that “the Government has cut Medicare and wants you to pay for it”.

In a release, the AMA President Dr Michael Gannon has called on the Coalition to match Labor’s pledge to unfreeze Medicare rebates, boost public hospital funding and reverse bulk billing incentive cuts for pathology and diagnostic imaging services.

“Opinion polls consistently show that health is one of the top priorities for voters, and now is the chance for the Coalition to show its commitment to putting health first,” Dr Gannon said.

In Ipswich, Grange Road Medical Centre has written to patients saying that “today, Medicare rebates do not cover the full cost of providing you with medical care” and that “the Government has announced it will freeze Medicare rebates until July 2020”.

This decision, the centre informs patients, will have ramifications.

“It is no longer possible for this practice to meet our running costs each year without increasing our fees,”

“The Medicare rebate freeze means that this practice will no longer be able to bulk bill many patients, as we do now.”

As a general rule however, the letter goes on to state that children under five, DVA card holders, pensioners over 75, annual health assessments and patients on chronic and complex disease care plans will continue to be bulk billed.

Blair MP Shayne Neumann said the Coalition was “basically making people pay $5 more every time they get a script or 80 cents for a concessional patient, if they are a pensioner”.

“That’s if their PBS changes come in. That is their policy in the 2016 budget,” Mr Neumann said.

“I spoke to a pensioner in Brassall about the PBS changes and she said she was getting five scripts a month and that meant $4 extra a month, which is a lot for her. That’s if the Liberals win.

“According to the AMA, the Coalition is going to make people pay $25 more when they see a doctor by 2020 unless they unfreeze the Medicare rebate indexation.

“The final thing they are doing, is they are getting rid of the Medicare bulk billing incentives for pathology, MRIs, mammograms, blood tests etc.

“If you go Southern X in Ipswich and go under one of their diagnostic imaging machines according to the Australian Diagnostic Imaging Association you could pay $150 more.

“The Coalition are cutting $884 million out of Medicare funding over the next four years across the forward estimates and cutting about $2.9 billion out of Medicare over the next 10 years.

“If that is not privatisation…then I don’t know what is.”

LNP candidate for Blair Teresa Harding said the ALP’s ‘Mediscare campaign” was “a complete fabrication”.

“We have increased the funding for Medicare in the coming budget by $4 billion and increased funding for state hospitals by $2.9 billion and added more medications to the PBS,” she said.

“We have not touched the Medicare rebate for diagnostics, MRIs and x-rays.”

Senator O’Sullivan said there was “a freeze put on by the Labor Government in relation to some of the rebates that occur under Medicare”.

“This government has continued the freeze, so it is business as usual,” he said.

“So what you are finding is that the AMA are riding on the back of the Medicare scare with their own scare,” he said.

“Labor’s policy is to reverse what they put in place. We need to say that slowly. They are going to ‘unfreeze their freeze’.

Ms Harding also said that GP clinics and medical clinics were small businesses.

“And we have a very supportive policies for small businesses…so with the tax cuts that are coming in the GPs will have those,” she said.



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