NACCHO Aboriginal Health News Alert : Ley VS King in Medicare debate war of words

Health Minister Sussan Ley speaks during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Wednesday, May 27, 2015. Ms Ley commented on the planed Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme to be reformed. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch) NO ARCHIVING

” An extra 17 million GP services were bulk billed under the Coalition last year compared with Labor following another year of record Medicare investment by the Turnbull Government, as Bill Shorten’s  Mediscare lies “crumble around him” and leave the credibility of his leadership in tatters.

Minister for Health and Aged Care Sussan Ley today revealed a record 123 million out of 145 million GP services were fully-funded by the Turnbull Government at no cost to patients through Medicare during 2015-16.”

“Record bulk billing as Shorten’s Mediscare lies crumble ” Minister for Health and Aged Care Sussan Ley

 “The Government’s triumphalism about today’s bulk billing figures shows how out of touch they are on Medicare.

As the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners has said previously, the statistics the Government is using are “misleading” and “should be rejected”.

That’s because they measure the number of services that are bulk billed, not the number of patients. So they hide the fact that millions of Australians are no longer bulk billed.

Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed that his Government remains committed to its six year freeze on Medicare rebates.”

“Government out of touch on Medicare ”  Catherine King Opposition spokesperson Health and Medicare see Part 2 Below

“Labor is in damage control over their Mediscare lies, this morning caught out claiming official bulk billing figures they trumpeted in Government now don’t apply because they are in opposition, in another major gaffe.

Bill Shorten and Labor made their bed with Mediscare. The question is whether they can stop lying in it.”

Gaffe-prone King in Mediscare damage control Ley Press Release Part 3 Below

Read all NACCHO Medicare News alerts here

This saw GP bulk billing hit a historic high of 85.1 per cent under the Turnbull Government – up from 84.3 per cent in 2014-15 – and follows the Coalition’s record $7.1 billion investment in general practice via Medicare last year.

The number of Australians accessing Medicare-funded GP services was also up by nearly half-a-million to 20.9 million last year, while the average number of services and spend per GP patient grew to 6.9 and $344 respectively.

The figures are a far cry from Labor’s Mediscare lies over the past year and raise serious questions for Mr Shorten:

‘Just weeks after it was introduced that freeze is already wreaking havoc on patients, with doctors forced to raise fees, cut bulk billing…” – Catherine King – 15 September 2015 – Media Release

Ms Ley said the figures were “good news for Australians and bad news for Labor”.

“Last year the Turnbull Government invested over $21 billion into Medicare as part of our commitment to ensuring all Australians have access to affordable universal healthcare – that’s about $60 million every day,” Ms Ley said.

“Across Australia, there were 17 million more bulk billed GP attendances in the last 12 months under the Turnbull Government compared to Labor’s last full year in office.

“These figures expose the blatant and remorseless Mediscare lies Labor – under Mr Shorten’s leadership – have been telling the Australian public over the past 12 months.

“There’s no doubt we still have work to do, but Australians should take assurance from the fact no government has invested more into Medicare than the Turnbull Government.

“And no Government has consistently overseen higher bulk billing rates than the Turnbull Government.”

Ms Ley said the Turnbull Government would increase investment in Medicare by another $4 billion over four years.

“And we’re backing that up with nearly $120 million to begin rollout out our GP-focused Health Care Homes – a better way of delivering Medicare for Australians with chronic illness.”

Overall, the number of Medicare services increased to 384 million in 2015-16 – more than one million per day – at a total cost of $21,107,750,246 – an increase of nearly $1 billion on 2014-15 – with the overall Medicare bulk billing rate also increasing to 78.2 per cent in 2015-16 from 77.6 per cent the year before.

Neither the Rudd-Gillard, nor Hawke-Keating, Labor Governments have ever delivered higher rates of Medicare investment or bulk billing than the Turnbull Coalition Government, Ms Ley said.

“This is possible because the Turnbull Government is committed to delivering a strong budget and economy that ensures we can also afford to continue investing in services important to Australians like Medicare.

“We will continue to work closely with health professionals across the board to ensure we deliver a health and Medicare system that is not only fair and focussed on quality, but efficient and sustainable for generations to come.

“In contrast, Bill Shorten’s Mediscare lies have left Labor exposed by a Leader whose credibility is now terminally damaged with the public and has weighed down his party with billions of dollars of promises they cannot afford.

“Labor is now going to have to make some tough savings decisions if they want to match the Turnbull Government’s record investment in Medicare, while at the same time building a strong economy and repairing the budget.”

” The Government’s triumphalism about today’s bulk billing figures shows how out of touch they are on Medicare. ” King

As the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners has said previously, the statistics the Government is using are “misleading” and “should be rejected”.

That’s because they measure the number of services that are bulk billed, not the number of patients. So they hide the fact that millions of Australians are no longer bulk billed.

These statistics also ignore the fact that out-of-pocket costs have more than doubled.

GPs have the best interests of their patients at heart, and many continued to bulk bill in 2015-16. They had been assured the freeze would be lifted in the Budget, and were watching the outcome of the election.

But now that it’s clear that Malcolm Turnbull’s Medicare freeze is an ice age, practices around Australia are abandoning bulk billing.

For example, the only practice on Magnetic Island in Queensland has advised the Island’s residents that it is abandoning bulk billing due to “Medicare restrictions and cuts”.

Similarly, the Collins and Grosvenor Street General Practices in Hobart have scrapped bulk billing due to the freeze.

Australians know that Malcolm Turnbull’s six year freeze on Medicare rebates is driving bulk billing down and out-of-pocket costs up.

The Government’s insistence otherwise only shows how out of touch they are.

GOVERNMENT REMAINS COMMITTED TO MEDICARE FREEZE

Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed that his Government remains committed to its six year freeze on Medicare rebates.

In an interview in today’s Australian, Mr Turnbull said the Government had “not decided to change the policy”.

This is in spite of Mr Turnbull’s comments, in the same interview, that “what we have to do this term is categorically reassure Australians about our commitment to universal health and Medicare”.

Mr Turnbull’s comments echo his claim, made immediately after the election, that he would learn the lessons of the election and address Australians’ concerns about his deep cuts to health.

But two months later, nothing has changed. As Mr Turnbull has confirmed today, the Government remains committed to:

  • Driving bulk billing down and co-payments up via the freeze on Medicare rebates, a GP Tax by stealth;
  • Cutting Medicare bulk billing incentives for vital tests and scans;
  • Increasing the price of prescription medicines by up to $5, even for concession card holders; and
  • Cutting hundreds of millions from Medicare via changes to the Medicare Safety Net.

Softer rhetoric won’t change the harsh reality of these cuts. Mr Turnbull’s “reassurance” is worth as much as Tony Abbott’s promise of “no cuts to health” – nothing.

In contrast, during the election campaign Labor committed to ending Mr Turnbull’s Medicare freeze, scrapping his cuts to vital tests and scans, reversing his price hikes to Medicines, and protecting the Medicare Safety Nets.

On health, look at what Mr Turnbull does, not what he says.

Updated Sunday

Gaffe-prone King in Mediscare damage control Ley Press Release

Labor is in damage control over their Mediscare lies, this morning caught out claiming official bulk billing figures they trumpeted in Government now don’t apply because they are in opposition, in another major gaffe.

Annual Medicare figures today show that an extra 17 million GP services were bulk billed under the Coalition last year compared with Labor following another year of record Medicare investment by the Turnbull Government.

This saw GP bulk billing rates hit a record high of 85.1 per cent in 2015-16, higher than both the Rudd-Gillard or Hawke-Keating Labor Governments.

Yet it’s clear Labor’s Mediscare know no bounds, with Shadow Labor Health Spokesperson Catherine King now trying to spin the Australian public that “the statistics the Government is using are “misleading” and “should be rejected”.

Except Ms King clearly forgot to check with her Deputy Labor Leader Tanya Plibersek, who was more than happy to stand by the official bulk billing statistics when she was Health Minister during the Rudd-Gillard Government.

And in a double blow for Ms King, Ms Plibersek’s media release is another reminder that GP bulk billing rates were lower under Labor than the 85.1 per cent recorded under the Turnbull Government today.

Ms King’s gaffe today will only continue to fuel concerns in Labor’s party room that Bill Shorten’s Mediscare lies will hurt the party’s trust with the Australian people in the long run.

Particularly after it was Ms King herself who, during the election campaign, was forced to admit Medicare bulk billing rates were higher under the Turnbull Coalition than under Labor:

KELLY: Bill Shorten is saying we want to campaign about bulk billing but in actual fact the Government’s performance is better than Labor’s.

KING: Well certainly. Well I’d welcome that. I’d welcome that bulk billing remains high – that’s a good thing, we want to preserve that.

And let’s not forget what Ms Plibersek had to say when Labor first introduced the Medicare pause on indexation, which runs completely counter to Bill Shorten’s Mediscare lies today:

Doctors earn enough money to bear the Federal Government’s controversial freeze on MBS rebates, Health Minister Tanya Plibersek says.

Ms Plibersek dismissed concerns that the freeze — which will remove $664 million from the MBS over four years — will pressure doctors to compromise care.

“I understand that GPs have all sorts of expenses in running their surgeries and employing staff and so on, but the average billing from Medicare is more than $350,000 a year.”

Bill Shorten’s Mediscare lies have left Labor exposed by a Leader whose credibility is now terminally damaged with the public and has weighed down his party with billions of dollars of promises they cannot afford.

Bill Shorten and Labor made their bed with Mediscare. The question is whether they can stop lying in it.

 

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