Sydney rally protests Hockey’s destructive GP co-payment

Save Medicare Sydney and the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) will join in a public rally at Martin Place in Sydney’s CBD today, calling on all federal Senators to reject the government’s proposed GP co-payment when the Senate resumes in the Parliament next week.

Speakers at the lunchtime rally will include NSW Opposition Leader John Robertson, Greens MLC Dr John Kaye, Secretary of the Community and Public Sector Union Nadine Flood, Unions NSW Secretary Mark Lennon, Jude Page from the Public Health Association, Deputy CEO of ACOSS Tessa Boyd-Caine and NSWNMA campaign director for aged care Stella Topaz.

Save Medicare Sydney spokesperson, Jean Parker, said concerns about the adverse impacts of a GP co-payment were continuing to resonate throughout communities.

“Overwhelming public opposition to the GP co-payment has manifest in a dead end for the Abbott Government’s plans in the Senate.  Hockey needs to admit defeat and drop his government’s attacks on Medicare,” said Miss Parker.

Mr Robertson said NSW Health modelling predicted thousands of people would be forced to turn up in emergency departments to avoid paying the fee to their local GP.

“The GP tax will mean waiting times for treatment in emergency departments will get longer – pushing our hospitals to breaking point,” Mr Robertson said.

“Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey are trying to implement a tax that will destroy our health system and smash the emergency rooms at hospitals across NSW – and Mike Baird is letting them get away with it.”

The rally will also focus on community opposition towards the Abbott Government’s plans to sell off the Medicare processing system, a move that puts tens of thousands of jobs at risk in the public sector.

Ms Flood said outsourcing the way in which $29 billion worth of Medicare and Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme payments are paid annually, amounted to the privatisation of Medicare by stealth.

“Selling off the Medicare payments system is the first step in this government’s agenda to privatise key public services.  It is the thin end of the wedge and signals the beginning of the end of Medicare, as we know it today,” Ms Flood said.

“Sneakily putting the Medicare payments system on the chopping block means the Abbott Government is attempting to avoid any real public scrutiny.  There is widespread community support for Medicare and unease about this government’s relentless attacks on it.”

Highlighting the impost of a Medicare co-payment on the aged care sector, Ms Topaz said it was one of the most regressive healthcare policies ever to be considered by government.

“Mr Hockey is destroying a decent standard of living for older Australians and their access to appropriate health care.  A large proportion of people dependant on aged care services would be significantly disadvantaged by a GP co-payment,” Ms Topaz said.

“Currently, the government is still trying to abolish the Seniors Supplement – leaving many seniors almost $900 a year worse off.  They also want to hit seniors with fuel excise and charge them additional costs for x-rays, blood tests and prescription medications.  The flow on implications are clear, many will reconsider attending their GP appointments and delay treatments.”

Save Medicare Sydney vowed to continue fighting against the GP co-payment and associated policies until the Abbott Government confirmed they were no longer under consideration or remained in the budget papers.

Download this media release: Sydney rally protests Hockey’s destructive GP co-payment


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