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Catholic Health calls Medicare change a "cruel blow" to the poor


Catholic Health Australia CEO Francis Sullivan yesterday strongly criticised the Government's announcement that the Medicare safety net thresholds are to be increased to $500 and $1000 respectively.

The Medicare Safety Net represented a major element of the Prime Minister's promises before last October's Federal Election.

Blaming a big blowout in Medicare costs, Mr Howard said yesterday that the safety net thresholds would be lifted to curb government health spending. From 1 January next year, pensioners, concession card holders and most families will have to spend $500, and the others $1000, before qualifying for safety net cover. This will save the Government up to $500 million a year. But Mr Howard says the scheme will still cost more than double its original price tag of $440 million over four years.

Mr Sullivan said the announcement "represents a cruel blow to average and lower income earners and will hit the sickest hardest".

"The announcement effectively represents a $200 per year health tax," he said

"With average out of pocket payments to see a GP who doesn't bulk-bill currently around $14.70, it will take 34 visits before the safety net kicks in. This is clearly an unrealistic scenario for most middle and lower income families who will now have no option but to pay the additional health tax. This will place increased strain on family budgets which are already struggling with increased interest rates, high petrol costs and private health insurance increases."

"This impost on families is unlikely to address the major reason for the budget blow-out which has been caused by much higher charges by some medical specialist groups since the safety net was introduced."

"In a country as prosperous as Australia there is no need for the sick and the poor to be treated in this cruel way" Mr Sullivan added.

SOURCE
Safety Net Change a Cruel Blow to the Sick and the Poor (Catholic Health Australia 14/4/05)
Health costs to soar (Herald-Sun 15/4/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Health Australia
Australian Government Health Insurance Commission - Medicare

ARCHIVE
Catholic Health says election pledges "spread Medicare benefits further" (CathNews 7/9/04)
Catholic Health says Medicare investment key election issue (CathNews 30/8/04)

MORE STORIES
Medicare safety net threshold increased (ABC TV 7:30 Report 14/4/05)
Medicare safety net threshold to rise (ABC TV Lateline 14/4/05)
Govt makes cuts to Medicare Safety Net (ABC Radio PM 14/4/05)
Michael Harvey: Bitter pill for families (Herald-Sun 15/4/05)
Push to ban private patients from Medicare (Sydney Morning Herald 15/4/05)
Medicare threshold deceitful: Labor (The Advertiser/Australian Associated Press 14/4/05)
Big holes in Medicare safety net (The Advertiser 15/4/05)
PM trashes Medicare vow (The Australian 15/4/05)



15 Apr 2005