The recent attempts by the Abbott led government to dismantle Australia's universal health care system – MEDICARE, is just the last in a long line of attempts by Liberal/National Party governments to destroy the Whitlam led Labor government's greatest reform – the introduction of a universal health care system that ensured all Australians had access to basic health care.
The introduction of Medicare in 1974 was met with opposition from the Australian Medical Association (AMA), the Liberal Party and the National Party.
The election of the Fraser led government in 1975 was followed by a series of attempts to dismantle Medibank (the name was changed to Medicare by the Hawke led Labor government).
The election of the Hawke led Labor government resulted in the introduction of a co-payment which was removed three months after it was introduced because of wide spread public protests.
Abbott, as Health Minister in the Howard led Liberal/National Party, unsuccessfully attempted to dismantle Medicare in 2004. Public opposition was so great he was forced to introduce reforms which strengthened the universal nature of Medicare. Medicare is the
single most important reform introduced in Australia since the Second World War.
It gives all Australians, irrespective of where they live, how much they earn or who they are, access to basic health care. No one in Australia has had to think twice before seeking medical care before the Abbott led government's proposed changes to Medicare.
The changes are designed to ensure those least able to afford health care will be forced to think twice before they access it. What at first glance may seem to be a small co-payment, $7 for each visit, quickly adds up if pathology tests and radiological tests are required. Each new test will require a $7 co-payment.
The changes are designed to force out of business doctors who continue to bulkbill all their patients.
Doctors who continue to bulkbill their patients will suffer a drop in income of 25%. Such a drop in income will make many medical practices go to the wall.
Why should doctors who charge no out of pocket fees (bulkbill patients) be discriminated against by the Federal government, while doctors who put their hand in a patients pocket, be rewarded. Providing universal health care has put a lid on medical costs in Australia.
Doctors who charge too much have found it difficult to compete against those who bulkbill.
Competition between bulkbilling and non bulkbilling doctors has ensured that health costs do not escalate in Australia. Each and every one of us is a heartbeat away from a catastrophic health event. Disease, cancer, accidents are threats we all face.
If you don't want to live in such a country, you need to actively oppose these proposed changes.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
The ball's in your court, join the growing struggle to Defend and Extend Medicare or getready to pay a lot more for access to health care in Australia.
Dr. Joseph Toscano / Convenor Defend and Extend Medicare
Website: www.defendandextendmedicare.com/ coming soon
Mobile: 0439 385 489
Postal: PO Box 5035 Alphington Victoria 3078