Is Medicare Dying - page 2
With all the discussions on the news lately about the increasing gap between what doctors are charging and the medicare rebate it seems that the federal goverement is just quietly letting medicare... Read More
Jul 6, '03We are trying to keep our free medical system but it is hard. WE not only have abuse from within = people who turn up to the accident and emergency with thier bags packed for admission and the flimsiest story of GIT pain but doctors who put in false claim rebates to people bringing relatives in from overseas and having thier major surgery done while posing as Australian.
These are just extra strains upon a system where there is an increasing demand for investigation. Once a CT was rarely done, now people are demanding them as routine.
Jul 15, '03The Australian Nursing Federation has become sufficiently worried about the present goverment 's stance on medicare to start to speak out
ANF fights to save Medicare
The ANF has joined the ACTU and other health, welfare, church and political groups in opposing the Howard Government's proposed changes to Medicare. Through participation in the Victorian Medicare Action Group and other activities, the ANF is campaigning to ensure Medicare remains a univesal health care system.
The following resolution was passed at the ANF Federal Executive in May:
The ANF strongly supports Medicare as a universal access health insurance scheme funded through taxes and the Medicare levy and based on the provision of health care based on need rather than capacity to pay.
The ANF opposes the proposed changes to Medicare by the Howard Government that allows medical practitioners to direct bill Medicare and charge an upfront co-payment and that allows private health insurance cover for the medical gap.
The ANF supports an increase in the Medicare rebate so that all medical practitioners can continue to provide access to bulk billing to all people in Australia.
The ANF also supports the abolition of the private health insurance rebate and the re-direction of that money to Medicare and public hospitals.
Protecting universal access
This important resolution was passed because the ANF has real concerns about the way the proposed changes will limit the community's access to medical care.
When a patient needs a nurse, we don't first ask how much money they have - we provide the same quality nursing care to everyone. This is the fundamental principle on which Medicare is based. Universal access to health care based on need, not on capacity to pay - that is what nurses stand for.
The Howard Government's proposals undermine this basic principle. Under the changes, bulk billing will decline. By capping the Medicare rebate, the proposals will force doctors to charge a co-payment to survive. This will mean that people not on pensions or health care cards will have no option but to pay an upfront fee as determined by their doctor.
Consequently people will delay going to their doctor. When they eventually attend, they will be sicker and therefore it will be more expensive and complicated to treat their medical condition.
Others will be forced to use public hospital accident and emergency facilities for their health care. This will be the only alternative many families and those who are chronically ill will have and will place more unneccessary pressure on an already stressed public health system.
What the community wants
Polling done at the time the proposals were announced clearly shows that the community does not support John Howard's changes. Only 22 percent were in favour of bulk billing being restricted and 60 percent were against the changes.
The ANF view
The ANF is seeking an increase in the Medicare rebate to all doctors so doctors can continue to bulk bill. The ANF believes this increase should be funded through the Medicare levy which enables people to pay in accordance with their capacity to do so. In this way, Medicare can be maintained as Australia's universal access health care scheme.
Universal access is the fundamental principle that has made Medicare great. It is the fundamental principle that reflects core Australian and union values - that those who have more, help those who have less. The changes to Medicare proposed by the Federal Government abandon this principle.
On behalf of Victorian nurses and the Victorian community, the ANF will be doing all it can to ensure that this principle is upheld. Throughout June, the ANF (Vic Branch) has been participating in regional forums with the Victorian Medicare Action Group and has invited Job Reps to attend. The Branch will keep members informed about future activities and how to support them through On the Record and the ANF (Vic Branch) website at www.anfvic.asn.au
There has been speculation that the Federal Government is planning to change Medicare. The current scheme gives all Australians access to bulk billing. The proposed new scheme could restrict bulk billing to those on pensions or with health care cards, while others might not have access to bulk billing. Are you personally in favour or against this proposed change to the Medicare system?
Total Male Female
In Favour 22% 21% 23%
Against 60% 59% 61%
Neither/Don't Know 18% 20% 16%
TOTAL 100% 100% 100%
1200 respondents from across Australia aged 18 or over were surveyed between 28 April and 1 May 2003.