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Issue #1736      June 22, 2016

Hands off


Medicare, the public hospital system and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) have together provided the people of Australia with comprehensive cover and a world-class public health system.

The government is in the process of privatising the public health system and going down the path of the disastrous profits-first, American system.

Bulk billing, universal access and quality care are the pillars of Medicare. The Turnbull government will chop them down after the elections.

The government plans to means test access to Medicare and make co-payments obligatory for all patients. Patient contributions for prescription medications and safety nets are set to rise even higher. The Abbott/Hockey 2014 budget cuts of $54 billion to public hospital funding for the states and territories are still on the agenda.

At the same time the government can find $1 trillion for the military and its killing machines and slash corporate taxes.

It is not the public health system that is unsustainable. Medicare is cheaper and more efficient than the private sector. Talk of runaway health costs is an attempt to justify a callous cost-cutting agenda.

Health care is a basic human right, not a commodity to be bought and sold on markets to those who can afford it. Yet that is what the government plans to do if it is re-elected.

In pre-Medicare days visits to the GP, blood tests, medications and hospitalisation were dependent on ability to pay. People lost their homes, went to jail for unpaid debts and even died because they could not afford treatment.

The Communist Party of Australia calls for:

  • universal access to bulk billing with doctors’ rebate fully indexed or doctors given the choice of being salaried
  • inclusion of dental care under Medicare
  • PBS scripts free at point of delivery
  • no corporate tax cuts
  • an end to the Australia-US alliance and Australia’s massive arms build up.

The Communist Party supports medical and other health services being funded centrally through a progressive taxation system.

Centralised funding turns the private, user-pays model on its head. Instead of access and quality of health care based on ability to pay, access becomes universal and ability to pay determines the contribution to costs.

When voting on July 2, put the Coalition and other conservative parties and conservative independents last. Vote for Medicare by supporting the Australian Greens and other left and progressive candidates.

Next article – Editorial – Put this govt last

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