Central Coast health care practitioners, small business owners and residents met on Wednesday with members of Labor’s newly formed national Medicare Taskforce to discuss Australia’s health
Taskforce Chair and Federal Member for Newcastle Sharon Claydon MP said the message that Taskforce members received was loud and clear: The Turnbull Government’s sustained attacks on Medicare must stop.
“After the election, Mr Turnbull said he had learnt his lesson about the importance of healthcare to Australians, but since then he has failed to take a single cut off the table,” Ms Claydon said.
“Bulk billing, pathology, diagnostic tests, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, the Medicare Safety Net and children’s dental care are all still in the crosshairs.”
Member for Dobell Emma McBride said the Taskforce consultations revealed the pressure that patients and healthcare providers on the Central Coast are facing.
“As a pharmacist, it is alarming to hear that as many as 30,000 locals have already delayed or avoided filling a prescription due to cost, but the situation will only get worse as Malcolm Turnbull plans to increase the cost of PBS medicines by up to $5 a script.
“GPs and health providers told us the financial pressures the Medicare rebate freeze is causing, warning that local communities could lose vital services entirely if it continues.”
Taskforce Deputy Chair and paediatrician of 30-plus years’ experience, Dr Mike Freelander said the meetings were the first in a series of nationwide conversations planned for coming months.
“Australia’s out of pocket healthcare costs have increased significantly under this Government, putting further pressure on the ability of the disadvantaged and those with chronic illnesses to access healthcare. Unless we reverse this trend we will have a two tiered health system with many people struggling to access care,” Dr Freelander said.
“The Taskforce will be meeting with people all over the country to determine the impacts of this damaging policy agenda on local communities.”