Reversing cuts to Medicare rebates a win for patients

The country’s largest union, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF), has welcomed the Opposition’s election pledge that it will reverse the Turnbull Government’s crippling freeze on Medicare rebates.

The ANMF’s Acting Federal Secretary Annie Butler said the decision to restore indexation to MBS rebates from January 1 next year will assist in protecting Australia’s successful universal system of healthcare.

“Nurses and midwives support universal health care for all Australians, believing that access to quality health care for all is a right and not a privilege. As such, we are deeply concerned that the Government continues to undermine Medicare. We are extremely concerned that the extended freeze on rebates for doctors and other health professionals has the potential to lead to significantly worse health outcomes for health consumers,” Ms Butler said.

“By freezing rebates, the Government is effectively slashing funds for GPs, medical specialists and other health professionals, forcing them to recoup this loss of funds from their patients and this means people could end up paying hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in up-front costs for a wide range of crucial services.

“Australians already experience some of the highest out of pocket costs for healthcare in the world and that’s why it’s heartening that the Opposition has moved to ensure that all Australians have access to quality healthcare when they need it.”

As part of its new multi-media campaign – If you don’t care, we can’t care the ANMF has written to the Government, the Opposition and the Greens, calling on them to strengthen and improve Medicare by removing the freeze on rebates and committing to bulk-billing for out of hospital pathology tests.

“In just over one week since the launch of the campaign, over 3151 emails have been sent by the community to the leaders of the Coalition, the Opposition and the Greens calling on them to show they care this election and specifically to stop the freeze on MBS rebates. Labor’s announcement today means that they have listened to our members, our campaign supporters and other key health groups,” Ms Butler explained.

“The ANMF, along with other health groups such as the AMA and RACGP, have condemned the freeze on rebates, as we all believe that forcing increased co-payments for medical and health services is not the answer to providing Australians with a sustainable health system.

“We are pleased the Opposition has listened to our concerns about the devastating impact the six-year freeze will have on health consumers and we urge the Government to do the same.”

For more information about the ANMF’s campaign, go to www.ICareandIVote.com.au

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