The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) and Save Medicare Sydney have condemned the Abbott Government’s decision to press ahead with its plan to introduce a ‘price signal’ on health care and force Australians seeking medical treatment to question their capacity to pay over their wellbeing.
General Secretary of the NSWNMA, Brett Holmes, said no amount of tweaking the co-payment policy changed the fact that the Abbott Government was determined to destroy Medicare, by shifting responsibility onto General Practitioners to decide who pays an ‘optional co-payment’.
“We have said from the outset that any form of co-payment undermines the very principles Medicare was built on, which is to provide universal health care to all Australians regardless of where they live or how much they earn,” Mr Holmes said.
“This latest policy shift of a $5 ‘optional co-payment’ at the discretion of GPs reiterates that the Abbott Government is committed to undermining Medicare’s universality and replacing it with a two-tier Americanised health system.
“When the Abbott Government first indicated it wanted to attack our universal health care system, the entire health community, economists, academics, health advocates and health sector unions unanimously opposed the plan as bad public policy-making.
“It is a slippery slope for a government to ignore the wishes of the Australian people and the scrutiny of parliamentary sittings, to press ahead with a plan and inflict a ‘price signal’ on health care without a mandate to do so.
“Our members are vehemently opposed to the destruction of our world-class universal health care system under Medicare, particularly when colleagues in the United States can point to endless examples of patients being forced to question their wealth over their health and thousands of people have died as a result,” he said.
Save Medicare Sydney spokesperson, Jean Parker, said it was outrageous that the Abbott Government was gutting GP funding in an effort to force doctors to enact their failed policy.
“We fought the ‘Plan A’ co-payment that was launched in the May budget and we won,” Ms Parker said.
“We now intend to step up our campaign against Abbott’s ‘Plan B’ co-payment.
“The government is starving GP funding to force doctors to roll out a policy that’s been resoundingly rejected by the community. We are confident that most people can see through Abbott’s ‘Plan B’.
“The real target of Abbott’s policy is Medicare bulk-billing. Once bulk-billing rates are eroded under this policy, we’ll see the emergence of a two-tiered health system with luxury services for the rich and basement bargain care for the poor. We will not stand for this.
“Many low income Australians without a concession card would be hit by this ‘Plan B’ – what is Abbott’s response to them and their capacity to pay?”
The NSWNMA and Save Medicare Sydney will join with other union groups, health care advocates and community members to publicly oppose the Abbott Government’s latest co-payment plan at Martin Place in Sydney tomorrow. Speakers will include:
- Brett Holmes, General Secretary of NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association
- John Robertson MP, NSW Opposition Leader
- John Kaye MP, Greens NSW
- Mark Lennon, Secretary of Unions NSW
- Dr Con Costa, National President of Doctors Reform Society
Representatives from each of the groups will outline plans to continue campaigning and to lobby the ALP, Greens, Palmer United and Independent Senators to reject the ‘optional co-payment’ policy.
MEDIA ALERT: A public rally will be held TOMORROW, Thursday 11 December 2014, from 12-noon at Martin Place near Phillip St, Sydney. Media are welcome to attend.
Download this joint media release: No one is buying your bad medicine, Mr Abbott