NSWNMA welcomes end of Medicare rebate freeze

The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association has welcomed the Opposition’s pledge to end the Medicare rebate freeze and restore the indexation of the payment.

NSWNMA Assistant General Secretary, Judith Kiejda, said the policy was a good start to prevent further weakening of the Medicare system.

“It’s a relief to finally see a major policy come out around Medicare. Our healthcare system is reaching a tipping point, so it’s important for our industry to have a government that understands the importance of funding health care properly, rather than putting much needed funds towards tax cuts for the wealthy,” Ms Kiejda said.

“This current government seems committed to dismantling our universal health system. When they failed to introduce the GP co-payment, they just kept on going by freezing rebates for doctors and health professionals and introducing $650 million in cuts to bulk-billing incentives, in an attempt to reduce Commonwealth funding from 25 per cent to around 12 per cent in the next 35 years.

“With a growing, ageing population, we should be increasing funding for healthcare, not reducing it. It’s just common sense.

“The whole industry is feeling the pressure mounting and the losers are the patients, who will bear the brunt of any federal funding cuts. Our emergency departments are under extreme pressure with $57 billion in funding cuts over the next 10 years set to hit in 2017. The more we can keep patients out of our public hospitals and seen by their local doctor, the better.

“We’d encourage the Government to at least give our nurses and midwives this small reprieve by lifting the freeze on rebates.”

For more information about federal health funding issues, visit  www.ICareandIVote.com.au