The Turnbull Government has taken an extraordinary step in the privatisation of Medicare, with the decision to hand over some of Australia’s most sensitive and confidential health data to a privately run, for profit, operator.
The Minister for Health will today announce Telstra will be given control of the private medical details of millions of Australians, by being awarded the contract for the National Cancer registry.
The decision transfers control of such sensitive data as the Victorian Cervical Cytology Registry (VCCR), the National Human Papillomavirus Vaccination Program Register (NHVPR), follow up programs for the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP), and the South Australian Cervix Screening Registry (SACSR) from not-for-profit charities, to a multinational telecommunications giant.
Data held on these registries includes some of Australia’s most sensitive and deeply personal health data, such as pap smear results and bowel cancer screening.
The Turnbull Government needs to explain how Australians’ personal data will be kept secure.
Today’s announcement comes just months after it was revealed Health Department officials had been working in secret for 18 months on plans to privatise the Medicare payments system.
In Senate Estimates earlier this year, Departmental officials confirmed a $5 million 20 person taskforce has been established to advance the privatisation project, which was described as examining the “commercial possibilities” of the Medicare payments system.
The whole process has been kept secret from the Australian public and has not been registered on AusTender. The Turnbull Government needs to come clean about what type of companies will be managing our personal data. Will it be private health insurers? The big banks?
Today’s announcement confirms the Turnbull Government is determined to press ahead with plans that could jeopardise the patient data of every Australian.
Despite protests from the Minister, it is clear, yet again, these decisions go way beyond simply “digitising” the Medicare payments system.
It confirms, yet again, that the Turnbull Government is determined to see these essential, and highly confidential functions, delivered for profit, and not with the best interests of patients in mind.
Today’s revelations confirm that after spending their first two years in office trying to kill Medicare, the Liberals are determined, if re-elected, to spend their next term in office trying to sell it.
This is the thin end of the wedge – Malcolm Turnbull has made no secret that he wants us all to pay more for our health care.
No one wants Australia to go down the path of an American-style two- tiered health system.
The Liberals’ assault on Medicare and universal health care must stop.
All Australians should be able to access health care when and where they need it. Only Labor can be trusted to make this happen.
That’s why a Shorten Labor Government will restore indexation of the Medicare Benefits Schedule from 1 January 2017.
We will reverse Mr Turnbull’s cuts which will reduce bulk-billing and hit Australian families every time they visit the doctor.
Labor created Medicare and Labor will always protect Medicare.
In contrast, Medicare is under attack from Mr Turnbull and the Liberals. They have made no secret they want us all to pay more to see the doctor and the indexation freeze will ensure this happens.
Malcolm Turnbull’s only plans for Medicare are to privatise it and to cut bulk-billing.