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01 Dec 2015

In welcoming the Government’s decision to withdraw its proposed changes to the Medicare Safety Net, AMA President, Professor Brian Owler, said today that the changes should be scrapped altogether, not just put on hold.

Professor Owler said the changes, if passed by the Parliament, would have hurt vulnerable patients in the community, including cancer sufferers and people needing mental health treatments.

“Today’s decision is a victory for fairness,” Professor Owler said.

“The AMA had raised our objections to the changes in a submission to the Senate Committee, and in meetings with the Health Minister, the Opposition, and The Greens.

“The Government’s changes would have created a financial and emotional burden for Australian families with considerable and unavoidable health needs.

“We recommend that the Government scrap the proposed changes altogether.”

Professor Owler said that the Health Minister can now concentrate on other priorities in the health portfolio, including the MBS review, the Primary Care review, the review of the private health insurance sector, and public hospital funding.

“It is important that these reviews progress with genuine consultation with the medical profession, and do not become a cost cutting exercise,” Professor Owler said.

“The Government must not be tempted to use the reviews to recoup the almost $267 million in Budget savings it was pursuing with the Safety Net changes.

“Instead, the AMA encourages the Government to continue in the spirit of fairness by lifting the freeze on Medicare patient rebates.”


1 December 2015

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Published: 01 Dec 2015