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Medicare Plus Has No Good News for Hospitals
The Health Services Union today predicted further increases in waiting lists and more crowded emergency departments after the failure of the Federal Government’s revised Medicare package to tackle the decline in bulk-billing.
The HSU's national secretary Craig Thomson, said the union had made it clear to Health Minister Tony Abbott in a recent meeting that any attempt to fix the Fairer Medicare package needed to look at the pressure on public hospitals.
"The Howard Government for ideological reasons has failed to tackle the problem of declining rates of bulk-billing," Mr Thomson said.
"Newspoll research conducted for the union has confirmed what we have already seen in every area of the country. In the recent poll, nine per cent of people said they will head for an emergency department if their doctor puts their fees up or stops bulk-billing.
"Nationally that means over 1.2 million people will choose public hospitals over higher doctor fees.
"Giving some people relief after they have forked out $500 is not going to ease that problem.
"Higher rates of bulk-billing, more after-hours services and bulk-billing clinics attached to hospitals are what healthworkers are looking for.
"It is a terrible disappointment that the government has not been prepared to do more to tackle this problem.
"The minor parties in the Senate should keep this mind when they are negotiating with the government.
"Australians deserve the best health services possible and the HSU is prepared to support whichever party is committed to achieving that. We have already suggested a one per cent increase in the Medicare levy to raise much needed funds for public hospitals."
Health Services Union of Australia
Ph: 03 93413328