The country’s largest health union, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF), says reports the Abbott Government is considering a new “hospital tax” will end universal healthcare for all Australians.
ANMF Federal Secretary, Lee Thomas, said Medicare is a taxpayer funded universal healthcare system that must always be controlled by Australian taxpayers.
“We are concerned that plans to introduce a fee for a visit to a hospital emergency department (ED) will result in more and more people who avoid seeking medical treatment altogether,” Ms Thomas said.
“Currently Australians can visit a bulk-billing doctor or a hospital without having to find the money to access healthcare for themselves or their families.
“The reason they end up in hospital EDs is because the rate of bulk-billing GPs throughout the community is so low, or in some communities, non-existent.
“That’s why the ANMF is worried that a new hospital tax for ED visits will prevent people getting the medical treatment they need, particularly low income earners and families already struggling to make ends meet.
“They simply won’t be able to afford healthcare.
“Before the election, Mr Abbott promised there would be no cuts to heath, but a hospital tax will simply end universal healthcare that all Australians have been able to access for the past 30 years under Medicare.
“The Government says it’s cutting red tape as part of regulatory reform, yet it is now planning to introduce another level of bureaucracy in the form of a hospital tax.
“Mr Abbott must tell the public who is going to get to administer the tax?
“Is he planning to employ more ward clerks in EDs across the country, or does he expect nurses to add to their already dangerously high workloads – forced to put paperwork before their patients?”
The ANMF, with over 233,000 members, is the professional and industrial voice for nurses, midwives and assistants in nursing in Australia.
ANMF media inquiries: 0411 254 390.