Thank you for your correspondence regarding access to IVF services and the Turnbull Government’s proposed changes to the Medicare safety nets. I share your concerns about the impact that these changes will have which is why Labor will not be supporting them when they are debated in the Senate later today.
The very intention of the safety net is to recognise that some patients need greater access to medical services, often due to a significant health event in any one year, and are designed to ensure patients in circumstances like yours don’t face significant out-of-pocket costs so that you can get access to the medical services you need.
I do want to say that in considering the proposed changes to the Medicare safety nets, Labor does believe that the existing arrangements are complicated and are not as well targeted as they could be. So we would be open to considering sensible reforms that better target the safety nets and make them more accessible. But the changes the government is looking to make will have a seriously adverse impact on hundreds of thousands of Australians – especially those requiring ongoing access to psychiatrists, radiation oncology patients, and people accessing assisted reproductive technology services.
Unfortunately, the policy of the Turnbull Government has been designed simply to cut costs from the health system which has well and truly been a theme of this government, having cut more than $60 billion from public hospitals, hundreds of millions from preventive health and public dental programs, and its ongoing GP Tax through its Medicare indexation freeze which in itself represents a cut to Medicare of some $2 billion.
For what it’s worth, when Labor introduced Medicare more than 30 years ago, then Prime Minister Bob Hawke warned that without it more than 2 million people “faced potential financial ruin in the event of major illness”. Today, because of Labor, we have one of the best health systems in the world. By OECD standards Australia has a relatively modest expenditure on health and gets extremely good outcomes, having one of the highest life expectancies in the world. It is important that the universality of Australia’s health system continues and that the Medicare safety net remain accessible to those who need it most.
These changes are yet to be considered before the Senate, but I can assure you that Labor will continue to oppose them there, consistent with our belief that every Australian should have access to the highest quality of care, regardless of where they live and regardless of their capacity to pay.
I wish you and your family well and please let me know if I can be of any help to you.
Shadow Minister for Health
What?! So the response I got was not a personalised letter especially for me?!
Lol, just kidding. It was a response at least, unlike the other two people I emailed who did not bother to respond - as yet....