Co-payments to visit bulk billing GPs and an increase in the price of prescription medicines will combine to have a devastating impact on Australia’s healthcare system now and into the future, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) has warned.
ANMF Acting Federal Secretary, Annie Butler, said the Prime Minister had broken his election promise by his savage cuts to Australia’s healthcare system and this would now dangerously compromise the amount of safe care able to be provided to people across the community.
“Tonight, Tony Abbott’s attack on Medicare has ripped the heart out of the Australian health system and as a former Health Minister, he should be ashamed of that,” Ms Butler said.
“Mr Abbott has no mandate to kill off Medicare. Australians didn’t vote for these devastating changes to our health system. For him to do this now is simply immoral.
“Ultimately, it’s everyday Australians who will suffer. They will be paying $7 to see a GP and paying more every time they go to get their prescriptions filled.
“Under this Budget, it’s now only people with their credit cards handy who will be able to get care. The others, who can’t afford it, like low income earners, the elderly and struggling families, will be forced to put off seeking medical treatment until it’s too late. That means people will get sicker and sicker, deprived of the care they need.”
Ms Butler said all Australians already pay for universal healthcare through tax, the Medicare levy and private insurance for those who can afford it
“As a nation, we already have one of the highest out of pocket costs ($1075 per year) for healthcare in the world and this will massively increase as the Government moves to destroy Medicare,” Ms Butler explained.
“The Government claims patient fees will help sustain the health system, but this is destined to fail, as it will only increase costs and worsen health outcomes. Co-payments will shift the cost burden onto individual consumers and the Australian public hospital system overall by driving more and more people into busy emergency departments.
“But as frontline healthcare professionals, nurses know that people must seek treatment sooner rather than later, otherwise those so-called minor ailments develop into serious, often chronic illnesses which go on to require expensive chronic care in hospitals.
“As Australia’s largest health union, the ANMF is deeply concerned that the Government has failed to consult with nurses and midwives or any other health professionals on the best ways to sustain and improve the health system.
“Rather than choosing to slash spending and end Medicare, Mr Abbott should be directing resources into preventative and primary care, preventing unnecessary procedures and readmissions which will control costs and ensure that we use evidence based practice.
“Rest assured, the ANMF will now fight to defend Medicare and the health of our nation and we urge the Senate to reject these changes and protect our health system because these cuts to health won’t heal.”
The ANMF, with over 233,000 members, is the professional and industrial voice for nurses, midwives and assistants in nursing in Australia.