The Minister for Health has flatly contradicted the Finance Minister and Treasurer by admitting Malcolm Turnbull’s cut to pathology and diagnostic imaging will leave some patients worse off.
Questioned by Patricia Karvelas on ABC Radio National about figures from the Australian Diagnostic Imaging Association that the scrapping of bulk billing incentives and other cuts would leave patients between $62 and $173 worse off, the minister admitted she was “not directly disagreeing” with those estimates:
“Some may be worse off”
Sussan Ley, ABC Radio National, 16th December 2015
Labor welcomes this rare show of honesty from Malcolm Turnbull’s front bench about the damage done by the Turnbull Government’s health cuts, which is in complete contrast with the Finance Minister’s claim that patients would not be worse off.
Sadly, the truth telling ended there, with the minister dismissing the $650 million cut as “a small amount” and insisting she had consulted widely with the health sector, despite never once discussing yesterday’s budget cuts with any health organisation.
As the minister has now made clear, the decision to rip $650 billion out of Medicare by slashing bulk billing for diagnostic imaging and pathology will hurt patents, by forcing cancer patients, and others with critical health conditions to either pay more or skip vital scans and tests.
The Australian Diagnostic Imaging Association has declared the shock Budget attack on patients to be worse than Tony Abbott’s failed $7 GP tax.
“We are talking about services that are absolutely essential to diagnosing and treating many conditions, and we’re making it harder for people to get. More people – especially those with chronic, serious conditions – will not be properly assessed. If Medicare exists to help people, this doesn’t make sense.”
Dr Christian Wriedt, President ADIA, 16th December 2015
As the ADIA points out, for a person with a suspected brain tumour, Malcolm Turnbull’s cuts will see them not only see them lose access to bulk billing and cut their Medicare rebate by $62, they will be forced to pay an up front cost of at least $403 before being able to claim that rebate.
Pathologists have also denounced the cuts as not only bad for patients, but as a short sighted measure that will cost the health system more in the longer term
“This is a very poor outcome for patients, and will cost the Government more in the longer term as the diagnosis of disease is deferred as is the opportunity for prevention of disease, meaning patients will become sicker without the positive interventions provided by the correct pathology diagnosis."
Liesel Wett, CEO, Pathology Australia, 15th December 2015
As the Minister for Health has tonight confirmed, no matter who their leader is, the Liberals only ever see health as a source of Budget cuts, and will always look to make health less affordable for those who need it most – the sick and the poor.
MYEFO confirms, yet again, only Labor can be trusted to defend Medicare and Medicare will never be safe under the Liberals, regardless of who the leader is.