A media release on the Minister for Health’s own website has directly contradicted her justification for the Mid-Year Budget decision to scrap bulk billing incentives for pathology and diagnostic imaging.
On ABC Radio this morning managed to contradict herself in the one answer attacking Labor’s 2009 bulk billing incentive for pathology and diagnostic imaging:
“This was a policy introduced to increase bulk billing and it didn’t. Well, it increased bulk billing by 1 per cent.”
Health Minister Sussan Ley, ABC AM, 17th December 2015
As was made clear by then Health Minister Nicola Roxon, the 2009 agreement was aimed at protecting existing patients, at a time when bulk billing rates for these services were declining.
“This measure will provide a strong incentive for providers to maintain or increase bulk billing rates.”
Given, by the minister’s own admission, that this measure not only maintained existing bulk billing rates, but saw them increase, Labor’s incentive has done exactly what it was designed to do.
The minister this morning also launched a bizarre attack on the 2011 agreement between Labor and pathologists which both kept down fees, and saved taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.
Again, as the original media release makes clear, this was another good outcome for both patients and the Budget, negotiated by Labor and agreed by the sector.
“Following very productive discussions with the sector, we have now secured a new five-year deal that will help the sector be prepared for the challenges of the future, including pressures from our ageing population and increased rates of chronic and preventable disease.”
This is in stark contrast to the Minister’s Mid-Year Budget Ambush which ripped $650 billion out of Medicare and which the minister admits would harm patients.
“Some may be worse off”
Sussan Ley, ABC Radio National, 16th December 2015
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
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 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 vulnerable.
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.