Tony Abbott recently announced he will shut every single Medicare Local. This is despite promising before the last election that he would not shut any.
This decision will mean the Grampians Medicare Local will close by the middle of next year only to be replaced with a new mega bureaucracy that will also cover the region to Geelong, and all the way to the South Australian border. It will also include towns like Lorne, Horsham and Warrnambool. This broken promise is another blow for Medicare.
The boundary for the Primary Healthcare Network in the Ballarat region is grossly inadequate and will not meet the health needs of the community or fulfil the role currently being undertaken by the Grampians Medicare Local.
At 30, across the country there will be fewer than half the previous number of Medicare Locals.
The Grampians Medicare Local was responding to the specific health needs in the Ballarat region including to improve immunisation rates, reduce rates of smoking, develop localised preventive health programs and improve after-hours access to GPs
It has been estimated that the cost to close Medicare Locals will be more than $200 million. The decision to replace Medicare Locals with a new mega bureaucracy will create bureaucratic chaos and only add further delays and more costs.
This broken promise from Tony Abbott will only put extra stress on a health system that faces more than $50 billion in cuts to hospitals, a $1.3 billion increase in the cost of medicines and the GP Tax which will rip the heart out of Medicare and drive up the costs of diagnostics.
Tony Abbott promised before the last election that not a single Medicare Local would close. Just as he lied about cuts to pensions, lied about cuts to health, and lied about introducing no new taxes, the fact that the Grampians Medicare Local will shut is proof that he has also broken his promise about not shutting Medicare Locals.
Catherine King, the Federal Member for Ballarat and the Shadow Minister for Health said that the closure of the Grampians Medicare Local will only put extra stress on the health care system and force Ballarat patients to travel further to get the health care they need.
"Tony Abbott promised before the election that not a single Medicare Local would close. He is now replacing all of them with new health mega bureaucracies that will create a greater tyranny of distance for patients in Ballarat.
“We already know that patients in regional cities often travel further to get the primary health care they need
As the party that established Medicare I will keep fighting for it and stand up against Tony Abbott’s unfair cuts to health.”