Government targets sick people to reduce Budget deficit

14 May 2013

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said tonight that the Government will force sick people to pay more for their health care to help address the Budget deficit.

Dr Hambleton said that the decision to delay indexation of the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) from 1 November 2013 to 1 July 2014 – which is effectively a freeze on MBS indexation – will rip $664.3 million out of primary health care services.

“The Government is getting sick people to help fix the Budget black hole,” Dr Hambleton said.

“People will pay more for their health care every time they visit the doctor.

“The sicker you are, the more you will pay.

“Even veterans will be hit. The freeze will hit health services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“Many families will face further increases to their health care costs through the increase of the upper Medicare Safety Net threshold to $2000.

“At a time when many Australians are facing huge cost of living pressures, it is going to get harder for people to cover their health care costs.

“Some people may choose to put off seeing their doctor.”

Dr Hambleton said it is surprising that a day after the Government announced record bulk billing figures, it hands down a package that will force bulk billing rates down.

The AMA welcomes funding in key areas, including:

·        $777 million for Closing the Gap in Indigenous Health Outcomes;

·        the World Leading Cancer Care Package; and

·        a national patient register for high risk implantable devices.

The AMA will closely examine the Budget Papers before making a comprehensive response to the overall Budget across portfolios.

A particular focus will be on the Government’s changes to taxation of work-related self-education expenses, which make it harder for doctors to improve their skills to the benefit of patients.

14 May 2013

CONTACT:         John Flannery                       02 6270 5477 / 0419 494 761
                          Kirsty Waterford                  02 6270 5464 / 0427 209 753

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