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Medi-wedon’t-care

In February this year, while refusing to confirm his government was considering introducing GP co-payments, Tony Abbott said, “As a health minister in a former government, I used to say that government was the best friend Medicare has ever had. This leopard doesn’t change his spots and I want this government, likewise, to be the best friend Medicare has ever had.”

History tells us that this leopard does in fact change his spots when it becomes politically expedient to do so and that the Coalition were dragged kicking and screaming to Medicare.

Originally, the scheme was called Medibank and was a major plank in Whitlam’s 1972 election platform. The coalition Liberal and National parties opposed Medibank. The legislation to implement it was twice rejected by the Senate. Following the 1974 double dissolution election, the legislation was again rejected by the Senate but passed at an historic joint sitting of the parliament. Medibank came into operation on July 1, 1975.

The Fraser Coalition government neutered Medibank, with taxpayers able to opt out of paying an increased levy in favour of private insurance.

The Hawke government reintroduced Medibank, rebadging it as Medicare. Financing arrangements were modified but the scheme was effectively the same as the one introduced by Whitlam. Throughout the 1980s, Medicare continued to be criticised by the Coalition. Whilst the 1993 election is remembered as a referendum on John Hewson’s GST, changes to Medicare were also an issue. For many years, bulk billing seemed to be at risk from a change of government. The 1993 election effectively led to bipartisan support for Medicare.

After Howard was elected, membership of private health funds fell to just over 30% in December 1998. With a mixture of financial carrots and sticks, private insurance peaked at 46% in December 2000 – and has remained at around this level ever since. This also generated a largely new for-profit private hospital industry.

By late 2003, bulk billing had fallen to 66%, from its peak of 80% under Paul Keating’s Labor government (1991 to 1996). These rising out-of-pocket costs for visiting a GP fuelled discontent with the government. Tony Abbott was appointed Health Minister and, to address this problem, promptly increased rebates to GPs. This quickly changed the trend. By 2004, bulk billing rates were back over 70% and Abbott declared the government was now “Medicare’s greatest friend”.

True to his highly political approach to the portfolio, the reforms Abbott can claim were driven by election timing.

Colorectal (bowel) cancer screening had a substantial amount of research and successful pilot schemes behind it. It was added to the Coalition’s 2004 election promises, partly to meet the attractions of Labor’s Medicare Gold – which promised to end waiting lists for over-75s. At the same time, the government subsidy to cover private health insurance premiums was increased for members over 65 and even higher for those over 70.

Out-of-pocket costs were also hitting consumers who used specialist services – again through charges well above the rebate offered by Medicare. The Medicare Safety Net – which gave an additional subsidy if costs of specialist in-hospital services passed a threshold – was intended to fix this problem. With no control over specialists’ fee-setting, this proved a recipe for further fee inflation and much of the benefit went to those who were better off. The 20% of Australians living in the wealthiest areas received 55% of Safety Net benefits, whereas those 20% living in poorest areas received less than 4% of benefits, largely due to wealthy people being more likely to see specialists.

The Safety Net reduced the competitive pressures that some doctors faced and increased their ability to charge higher fees, particularly in specialty areas such as private obstetrics and assisted-reproductive technology services. For every dollar the government spent on the Safety Net, around 43 cents went towards increased doctor fees and 57 cents went towards reducing patients’ out-of-pocket costs.

During the 2004 election, Tony Abbott used a Four Corners interview to give his “absolutely rock-solid, ironclad commitment” that the Government would not, after the election, lift the thresholds for the Medicare rebates.

TICKY FULLERTON: Will this Government commit to keeping the Medicare-plus-safety-net as it is now in place after the election?

TONY ABBOTT: Yes.

TICKY FULLERTON: That’s a cast-iron commitment?

TONY ABBOTT: Cast-iron commitment. Absolutely.

TICKY FULLERTON: 80 per cent of out-of-pocket expenses rebatable over $300, over $700?

TONY ABBOTT: That is an absolutely rock solid, iron-clad commitment.

However, in 2005, Tony Abbott and the Howard Government raised the Medicare Safety Net threshold from $300 to $500 for lower income families, and $700 to $1000 for everybody else.

When speaking to Laurie Oakes, Abbott said the Government was being responsible because it was changing opinions when circumstances changed.

TONY ABBOTT: Laurie, again, I can understand your dwelling on this. But, but sometimes governments have to choose between a range of unpalatable alternatives. Now…

LAURIE OAKES: One of the unpalatable alternatives is telling the truth, presumably.

TONY ABBOTT: We set up this safety net back in March of last year. Thinking that it was going to cost $440 million.

LAURIE OAKES: You knew by the election it was $1.3 billion.

TONY ABBOTT: We, we discovered in September-October that it was going to cost a lot more. We made a decision in a budget context that the best thing we could do for the long-term health of the economy, and indeed for the long-term health of the Medicare system, to change the thresholds.

LAURIE OAKES: And con the people through the election.

Speaking to The Weekend Australian, Abbott confessed, “Plainly it’s good to honour the last syllable of the last pledge but it’s also good to honour the team. So I’ll be supporting the team.”

Tony made changes that drove up fees, gave doctors and wealthy people more, made promises he couldn’t keep in an election campaign, and then hit low income earners in the budget to pay for the cost blowout, justifying it with team solidarity – sound familiar?

Abbott is an interesting individual because he is one who can say “sorry” when required. In this case, he states, “I made a categoric statement that turned out not to be true”. But sorry to whom? The political team he plays for or the ordinary followers who support the team and performances he has led them to expect?

Tony Abbott, as Health Minister, was unsympathetic to the new public health push from the World Health Organization, aimed at the social determinants of health. He saw health as a matter of individual choice, and ill-health in medical terms around the prevention and cure of particular diseases.

In 2006, Abbott rejected a half-hearted push from Labor state health ministers for restrictions on junk food advertising to children as a move to the “nanny state”.

Apparently individual choice for women was a different matter when it came to the availability of the abortion pill, RU486. Abbott fought to keep ministerial discretion over the availability of such drugs – making the much-quoted observation he would have to be convinced that doctors were not presenting abortion as an “easy option” before prescribing a “backyard miscarriage”.

His veto powers were removed after a major revolt led by women parliamentarians from all parties.

Abbott ended his term of minister as he began – focused on politics rather than substantive policy. As Labor’s demands for a more national approach to hospital policy mounted, Abbott responded by upping the ante, declaring that:

the only big reform worth considering is giving one level of government – inevitably the federal government – responsibility for the entire health system.

He was quickly silenced on this by Howard, who had no intention of entering the mire of federal state relations and the management of hospital systems.

In the 2010 Budget, the Rudd government introduced Safety Net caps for a small number of Medicare services where there was evidence of high Safety Net expenditure and doctor fee increases. The caps placed limits on the amount a patient can claim under the Safety Net. Government expenditure on the Safety Net fell by a dramatic 42% that year.

Despite promising before the 2013 election not to cut money for health, the Coalition will dramatically shrink the Commonwealth’s share of hospital funding, cutting its annual contribution by $15 billion by 2024, with the deepest cuts beginning in 2017. In the meantime it will cut more than $200 million in reward payments for hospitals meeting federally-imposed performance targets for surgery and emergency treatment.

They have once again fiddled with the Safety Net. If you spend over the relevant threshold amount on out-of-pocket costs for eligible out-of-hospital services, Medicare will soon pay 80% of any subsequent out-of-pocket costs, but only up to an amount totalling 150% of the scheduled fee (not 300% as it is now under the Extended Medicare Safety net for many services). The spending threshold for relief under the Medicare safety net will be lowered, but the benefits payable will be capped, a change that is expected to produce more than $260 million in savings. This shifts more of the risk of excessively high fees onto individuals rather than the government.

Not only has the government slashed funding to hospitals and tried to send “price signals” to discourage people from seeing a GP or having tests, they have also attacked preventative health measures.

Terminating a partnership agreement with the states on preventive health will save $368 million, while $3 million will be cut from anti-smoking campaigns, and the National Preventive Health Agency will be abolished.

This is all the more galling when we read that more than half a million dollars is being splurged on focus groups to help spruik uncapping university fees.

If you visit the Liberal Party facebook page you will find several graphics designed to convince us that Medicare is unsustainable no doubt in an attempt to get us to agree to some iteration of the GP co-payment.

Mr Dutton said: “The Coalition is the greatest friend Medicare ever had, and with millions of Australians facing the challenges of obesity, diabetes and dementia into the next generation, our task now is to make sure we strengthen and improve our health system into the future.”

John Deeble, who in 1968 co-authored proposals that formed the basis of the Whitlam government’s Medibank and the Hawke government’s Medicare, dismissed as a “furphy” suggestions by Peter Dutton that Medicare risked becoming unaffordable.

“In a rich country, in an advanced society, anything is sustainable if the society says it is.”

He suggested raising the Medicare levy to 2.75 per cent to help meet growing health costs, saying such a change would raise more revenue every year than would be yielded once through the sale of Medibank Private.

Neal Blewett, who was health minister when Medicare was introduced, said the Abbott government would pay heavily if it undermined Medicare.

“The Liberals never managed to win an election in the 1980s and 1990s until they committed themselves to Medicare,” he said. “[They] need to remember that; that there’s a very strong commitment in the community to Medicare.”

Let’s remind them.

 

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44 comments

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  1. my say

    How many more lies and broken promises ,do we have to put up with from this deranged government,What will we have left of australia ,and will it ever be the same again,

  2. John Passant

    You forgot to mention the $2.50 co-payment Labor introduced at the beginning of 1992 (the ‘left’ cut it back from $3.50) but Keating on turfing out Hawke got rid of after 3 months.

  3. Kaye Lee

    John,

    I actually left out a lot of things and the article was still essay length – like Abbott cutting a deal with the Independent Senators on the threshold for the safety net and then, when they got a majority in the Senate after the 2004 election, immediately dumping the deal in the first budget and doing what he wanted to in the first place. A saluatory tale for our current cross-benchers.

    The failed co-payment was a good point to include.

    What I don’t understand is why they are not consulting with the health industry to tell them where savings could be found. Stop listening to Tony Shepherd and Maurice Newman and let real experts give you some advice.

  4. Kaye Lee

    It is a compilation of information from a lot of articles. Some of the original source links no longer work so I removed them.

    There were two articles from the Conversation that I used amongst about 12 others. I should have referenced them and thank you for doing so. My aim is to collate and pass on information to promote discussion. As I have always said, all of this information is freely available on the internet..I just put it together.

    Information that may be pertinent to statements like “millions of Australians facing the challenges of obesity, diabetes and dementia into the next generation”

    People may be interested to know that…

    The Federal Government has cut the dementia and severe behaviours supplement, paid to providers of care for people with severe behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia. The dementia and severe behaviours supplement is only a year old. It provides a payment of $16 a day for each eligible dementia patient in residential care homes. The budget for the payment expanded from an initial estimate of $11.7 million to $110 million this year.

    Considering obesity and diabetes are both a problem one would also wonder why the government is so resistant to food labelling.

  5. Sir ScotchMistery

    One of the issues we face as voters wanting to show the less enlightened, the problems associated with another Abbort government, is that the devil is in the details. There are so many details and trying to get all the appropriate details as they involve a specific part of the demographic, is the how to tell them simply, because they are too shallow to absorb it themselves.

    In other words we need a group of 3 word slogans that resonate with a stupid population, but aren’t about boats and others but about the country and ourselves.

    A note to “Ripoff”, most work on the Internet is done by people who put the effort into the research. Well done you for locating the one/s Kaye used in collating a piece that we can all get our heads around. I look forward with interest to your “next” contribution, with references if it floats your boat. I found it doubly interesting that rather than pick holes in the argument/case presented, all you could do was point out sources.

    If you are so well versed, how about you put a 3500 word piece onto the site, as Kaye does, usually more than once a week.

  6. Garth

    Kaye Lee (and the other excellent contributors on AIMN), I am noticing more trolling comments on this site as well as other prominent independent media sites. That tells me you are starting to hit your mark and have them worried. Keep up the good work, it is appreciated!! It may be naive to think the truth will win out but it’s a noble pursuit and you have my full support.

  7. Kaye Lee

    I understand what you are saying ScotchMistery and I know it is true for many people but I need to understand things. I need to discuss and learn. How can you tell the truth in slogan form? I know it is what works but it isn’t for me, though I saw some great ones at the March in March 🙂

  8. CMMC

    Strange bunch of NeoCons, they obviously don’t expect our GDP to increase so as to bear the rising costs of healthcare, and it is hardly a Malthusian factor of increase.

  9. Michael

    Hi Kaye . The reality is that the truth doesn’t need sloganalising. ….that truth for me and all Aussies ( including you , I’m sure) is that we live in a society, not an economy: certainly l suppose that is a slogan but the nitty gritty is that very few of us would choose to attack youth, the vulnerable, the disabled or less fortunate for the sake of some accountants bottom line…. Aussies ( not “real aussie” team australia style bullshit) value a fair go, equal rights for all and a chance to get ahead given application and hard work. I live in a society. My children live in the society we have to build for them. I’m confident that one aspect of our society ( the economy) will improve if nurtured educated and value added. I’m not confident jack boots and self serving draconian impulses will. Thanks for your always entertaining articles….soldier on and happy new year. Michael.

  10. Garth

    Well said Michael. What the hell is the point of a surplus if you destroy the people in the process (leaving aside the total propaganda working for a surplus is). The truth is they don’t care about the 99%,we just aren’t important and are just an impediment /problem to be overcome to appease the goals of their true masters.

  11. Phi

    Abbott is not in it for the nation or for its people – he is in it for the political game and for his personal gain – this despicable man should never have reached this point and we Australians can hang our collective heads in shame for allowing a so-called voting system that facilitates such flotsam to rise to the top.

  12. Annie B

    To Kaye …….. thanks, as usual for a fact filled article – well written.

    In your comment back to John ( December 28, 2014 at 7:21 pm ) …… you said :

    What I don’t understand is why they are not consulting with the health industry to tell them where savings could be found. Stop listening to Tony Shepherd and Maurice Newman and let real experts give you some advice.

    “They” I take it …… are this insane Government. ……. and It IS difficult to understand the why’s as to them not seeking expert advice …… but ….

    We are dealing with a know-it-all, better-then-everybody, pack of psychopathic and power hungry grabbers at this time. …… They don’t seek expert advice, because they just MIGHT have to listen to them. … And that would not sit well with their over-inflated ego’s …. and their cast in stone, ideologies – especially if expert opinion might be positive, for a land that they care not one iota about. …. I was sure you would understand that Kaye.

    As for Shepherd and Newman – they are hardly worth thinking about…… True advisers, they ain’t.

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/planet-oz/2014/aug/15/fact-check-how-maurice-newman-misrepresents-science-to-claim-future-global-cooling

    And Shepherd follows his own dictates ….. as President of the Business Council of Australia. His agendas are money, money and more ways of making money ……. so of course the Abbott mob will listen to him !! as money is their agenda – for personal gratification …… and never in the interests of the Australian people. ( not so far anyway – and not likely to be ).

    It suits this monstrous Government to take the easiest way out – of anything, make inane comment and continuing blithely with their destructive agendas. …

    What they do NOT realise, is that there are many Australians out there who actually have great intelligence, experience in life, a good sense of right and wrong, and a damn good idea of what they want and don’t want.

    In their extreme arrogance, this rabble Government seem to have conveniently forgotten that – – – or they truly believe Australia will bow to pressure of threats, scare tactics, dumbing down procedures, and attacks on the frailest in the community.

    What I don’t understand …… is how long they think they can get away with it.

    Their own total arrogance will bring them crashing down ……. and I hope this makes you feel a bit better about it all, Kaye.

  13. Roswell

    From what I can see, there are links to the sources. That’s even how the mainstream media do it. A link to the source is considered the same as an acknowledgement.

  14. Carol Taylor

    A link to a source is clearly referencing. Kaye Lee, another fine job. I had almost forgotten Abbott’s stint as Health Minister where he fought against safe abortion stating that terminations were ‘the easy option’, and then on another occasion stating that he would not be having his daughter’s immunised against cervical cancer – being a virgin is always a girl or a woman’s best choice…

  15. James Harris

    PEOPLE! If we want affordable healthcare, merge the damn state and federal schemes together. Remove 8 of the 9 ‘Health” Ministers, their lackies, and the top part of the Public Service (The upper management) and BAM! affordable and sustainable heathcare for all.

  16. ozziealf

    Hear Hear Phi! Well spoken and TRUE !!!

  17. Matthew Oborne

    what do you get when you cross a weather vane with a leopard?

  18. Michael Taylor

    You’ll have to tell me, Matthew. I’m stumped. 🙁

  19. Erotic Moustache

    You get a really lame “changing spots” joke.

  20. Annie B

    To Kaye …….. thanks, as usual for a fact filled article – well written.

    In your comment back to John ( December 28, 2014 at 7:21 pm ) …… you said :

    What I don’t understand is why they are not consulting with the health industry to tell them where savings could be found. Stop listening to Tony Shepherd and Maurice Newman and let real experts give you some advice.

    “They” I take it …… are this insane Government. ……. and It IS difficult to understand the why’s as to them not seeking expert advice …… but ….

    We are dealing with a know-it-all, better-then-everybody, pack of psychopathic and power hungry grabbers at this time. …… They don’t seek expert advice, because they just MIGHT have to listen to them. … And that would not sit well with their over-inflated ego’s …. and their cast in stone, ideologies – especially if expert opinion might be positive, for a land that they care not one iota about. …. I was sure you would understand that Kaye.

    As for Shepherd and Newman – they are hardly worth thinking about…… True advisers, they ain’t.

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/planet-oz/2014/aug/15/fact-check-how-maurice-newman-misrepresents-science-to-claim-future-global-cooling

    And Shepherd follows his own dictates ….. as President of the Business Council of Australia. His agendas are money, money and more ways of making money ……. so of course the Abbott mob will listen to him !! as money is their agenda – for personal gratification …… and never in the interests of the Australian people. ( not so far anyway – and not likely to be ).

    It suits this monstrous Government to take the easiest way out – of anything, make inane comment and continuing blithely with their destructive agendas. …

    What they do NOT realise, is that there are many Australians out there who actually have great intelligence, experience in life, a good sense of right and wrong, and a damn good idea of what they want and don’t want.

    In their extreme arrogance, this rabble Government seem to have conveniently forgotten that – – – or they truly believe Australia will bow to pressure of threats, scare tactics, dumbing down procedures, and attacks on the frailest in the community.

    What I don’t understand …… is how long they think they can get away with it.

    Their own total arrogance will bring them crashing down …….

  21. Lee

    ” I had almost forgotten Abbott’s stint as Health Minister where he fought against safe abortion stating that terminations were ‘the easy option’, and then on another occasion stating that he would not be having his daughter’s immunised against cervical cancer – being a virgin is always a girl or a woman’s best choice…”

    There’s no excuse for letting religious beliefs come before the wellbeing of others. Let’s assume a woman remains a virgin until married and only has one sexual partner. He might turn out to be the one who gives her HPV. There’s also the belief that receiving the HPV vaccine increases promiscuity. The results of a very large study were recently published and the administration of the HPV vaccine did not result in an increase in sexual behaviour. It is discussed in this article, which contains a link to the paper.:

    No, the HPV vaccine does not cause promiscuity

    One very interesting passage in this article is worth a mention here to demonstrate how irrational some people can be.

    “As an anti-cancer strategy, vaccination is a pretty sensible one. HPV is not the only sexually-transmitted infection that can be prevented by vaccine. Hepatitis A and B are also sexually transmitted, and can be prevented with vaccines. However, immunization rates for HPV have lagged those of HBV and HAV, and anecdotally I haven’t seen a parental backlash against the hepatitis vaccines like I’ve seen against Gardasil and Cervarix, the two brands of HPV vaccine. ”

    I have to add, also anecdotally, that I’ve never known anyone to express concerns about promiscuity in association with the HAV or HBV vaccines.

  22. Wun Farlung

    A leopard can’t changes it’s spots but they are excellent at camouflage.
    The result of the last election are a testament to that.
    Garth
    I agree with your comment regarding trolls. Bring on the trolls , I enjoy teasing them and giving them rope

  23. Annie B

    I posted a response here – tried it a couple of times …… came up as ‘Error’ … ‘you have already made that comment’.

    But never did appear. …… So I am lost in the system.

    I’m not too concerned about it ….. guess it will keep for another day. !!

    ………

    @James Harris ………

    Very interesting points you’ve made about health care, here. … Reckon it just might work too – for the benefit of all.

  24. Michael Taylor

    Annie, I can’t see it in the spam filter. You may have posted it inadvertently under one of the other topics.

  25. Michael Taylor

    I take that back.

    I’ve found it, and it has been released.

  26. eli nes

    loved it, kaye! Surely only an amoral man could lie so poorly and so often? As for leopard spot jokes. i declare abbott the leap year.

  27. Kaye Lee

    “What do you get when you cross a leopard with a weathervane?”

    A pussy that gets pushed around by forces with no substance

  28. Kaye Lee

    “What do you get when you cross a leopard with a weathervane?”

    A cat who hides in the shadows plotting, streaks to the front of the pack, then sits there spinning on his arse asking invisible forces “which way do I go, which way do I go”

  29. Lee

    “Surely only an amoral man could lie so poorly and so often?”

    Did anyone notice that an interview from 2012 with Margie Abbott about Tony was doing the rounds on Facebook a couple of days ago? She told us about all of his virtues, including his honesty. Yeah right.

  30. Kaye Lee

    I wonder how the “honesty” is going on his citizenship papers. It seems astonishing that there has been no response to this. Speculation could be so easily quelled but instead, we have verbal assurances but no proof.

  31. Florence nee Fedup

    Has any one worked out what Abbott was about wit his usual brain fart stunt of buying the Mersey Hospital a few days before an election. All he achieved, was damaging the plans Tasmania had for their hospital’s at the time.

  32. Kaye Lee

    Tony used to believe that the Federal government should take over health. He wrote about it at length in Battlelines. Re the hospital in Tasmania…

    “Responding to very local community complaints about the reduction of scope of services at the Mersey Hospital in Devonport, Tasmania, Abbott moved to take direct federal control of the hospital. The state Labor government jumped at the chance to off-load an expensive white elephant.”

    Yet another example of our leopard changing his spots.

  33. Keitha Granville

    Let’s gope the Labor party has the guts to go for this before the next election. Raise the levy, let people know what it will pay for, what it will save them, how it will keep Medicare fair for everyone. Never mind the bleating of those on high incomes who will therefore be paying more – that’s what fair means. If you have more, you give more, to provide for those who have less. This lot are working backwards. We HAVE to keep up the pressure, we HAVE to make sure they don’t get re-elected or else we will be totally screwed.

  34. diannaart

    Asking the LNP to consult experts is like asking Abbott to stop wearing blue ties – sign of OCD or what?

    In addition, whenever I hear cries such as “we can’t have a nanny state” why do the Libs offer an authoritarian godfather instead? Why do the ‘freedom-loving Liberals’ impose their will across the more vulnerable people? Rhetorical question. Just wishing to, yet again, underscore the hypocrisy of this government.

    Again, excellent work Kaye Lee.

  35. Fred Martin

    Excellent article Kaye Lee., but what I don’t understand is why no-one ever questions the use of dollar figures. 10 years ago $8 billion, today $24 Billion, 10 years from now $34 billion ? but my question is :- what percentage of GDP does this represent ? 8 to 24 is a 200% increase but 24 to 34 is only a 37% increase, I would think that our GDP will grow by more than 37% in the next 10 years even with our weak growth at present. So where is the diabolically unsustainable problem ?

  36. Kaye Lee

    Fred,

    The cost of visits to GPs in 2012-13 (the latest figures) was $8.2 billion within a $147.4 billion health system. This represents only 5.6 per cent of the total health costs, or very little in the context of the industry at large.

    Spending on health has been falling relative to income in Australia since 2009-10, and is now growing slower than national income (GDP).

    Total government expenditure on health has fallen relative to tax revenue from 27.4% in 2009–10 to 25.9% in 2012–13.

    The federal government’s share of total government health expenditure has fallen from 43.6% in 2002–03 to 41.4% in 2012–13.

    Between 2002–03 and 2012–13, the federal government’s share of recurrent funding for public hospital services has fallen from 44.2% to 37.0%.

    http://evatt.org.au/news/medicare-unsustainable.html

  37. Kaye Lee

    As a percentage of GDP, Australian government spending on health is the tenth lowest of the 33 countries in the OECD database and the lowest among wealthy countries.

    The 8.3% of GDP spent by the US government, for instance, is higher than the 6.4% spent by the Commonwealth and state governments in Australia.

    Nor is it true that total health expenditure – government plus private spending – are unsustainable. Australia spends about 9.5% of GDP on health services; the United States spends 17.7%.

    If GDP growth per capita fell to the annual average of 1.4% per annum, which occurred between 1970 and 1990, then by 2050 per capita GDP would rise by 65%. And if health expenditures rose to the US level of 17.7%, there would still be a 50% increase in non-health GDP per capita.

    Health spending probably will rise as a share of GDP, but the economy is flexible. In 1901, agriculture accounted for 19.5% of GDP; today it is 2%.

    The contribution to the deficit from co-payments will be small. The “savings” to the government budget from a $6 co-payment was estimated by Terry Barnes from the Australian Centre for Health Research to be $750 million across four years, an average annual saving of about 0.3% of federal spending and 0.14% of total health spending.

    The real reason for co-payments appears to be ideological – a dislike of communal sharing even when it is to alleviate the financial burden of those already disadvantaged by illness.

    http://theconversation.com/australias-unsustainable-health-spending-is-a-myth-26393

  38. Kerri

    I wonder if Abbott has watched “Breaking Bad” probably too highbrow for him!!
    Just as a lesson in the faults of a medical system angled towards profits not people.

  39. Annie B

    Thank you Michael. …… Things went a little awry at one stage …. think Mars08 had trouble too. …..such are the vagaries of the internet and site builders / owners ( WordPress – and many others ). …. And left up to moderators to fix !!! ….. hmmm.

    ——

  40. Annie B

    One of the best ‘lures’ known to mankind, is that of mystery. …. it is fascinating to many, even most, and invites readers / viewers et al, to ‘solve’ problems or mysteries, presented.

    Obfuscation, used in particular by this Government ( keep ’em guessing ) …….is one of the tools of ‘mystery’, It is something a person or persons, cannot differentiate from. ….Yet they are invited to try.

    Two examples of this kind of conduct, is by Scientology – and the Mormon Church. ( I am not bringing religion into this, as frankly, I don’t believe that either of those, are true religious in any way ) …..

    But – these two have a tried and true way of getting fool followers to their causes. ……. because they introduce many senses of ‘mystery’ to their beliefs, …… to their rules of conduct, and to their teachings.

    Many people fall for this kind of mind manipulation.

    ………..

    I believe the current Government is using these tools of ‘mystery’ and vague references without explanation, to dumb down the populace. Confusion, and the pursuit of something that simply does not exist. Fabricated lies to cause divisions in the community, and ‘fear’ tactics …….. all part and parcel of the same thing …. the lure of mystery ………… and of secrecy.

    I certainly don’t have the answers, but figure that ignoring it might be a damned good start.

    We have our own intellects, our own beliefs, our own sense of self-worth and self-preservation – and above all, we have our own inalienable right to our own decisions – on any fact of life. …. Which of course, includes bloody politics. !!

    So – let’s use our instincts, our absolute rights, our innate knowledge of right and wrong, and our ability to stand up for ourselves …….. against a regime that is ruthless, fascist, and cruel ……. at the next election ( which is currently looking a little more like a Double Dissolution – most likely in the 1st half of 2015 ).

    So – let’s give it to ’em, good …….

    ( apologies for bad grammar just above here ) !!!

  41. abbienoiraude

    Having been a carer and involved in both my aged demented father’s last three years of life and my man’s 20 years of care for complex and ongoing (ie chronic) health issues, this article has helped very much in tracing the journey of Medibank/Medicare. We were the first generation to see the worth and help that Medibank offered the populace. I was not back then, being young and naïve understanding the history of its existence.

    Each time a Conservative Govt comes to power we hold our breaths. From the changes in Medicare, to the changes in Extended Health Care plans, to mental health supports, to pharmaceutical benefits, to what is ‘in’ and what is ‘out’ of any health services that may help extend my man’s life and well being. On the back of these basic health concerns being politicised by LNP Govts comes the coupling with changes to Centrelink requirements and demands made on those on DSP.

    We carers have a devil of a time keeping up with each change. Having a good GP helps, but for us in Regional NSW it takes up to 3 months to get into our GP and then to find specialists who ‘accept’ we on Govt benefits is another trial.

    Thank you Kaye for showing the road that the amazingly progressive health system put in place by Whitlam has taken. I just wish to hell the politicians would leave the bloody thing alone. It is so stressful and so confusing, depressing and hard to work through what questions to ask, how to fill out yet another form and what hoops should be jumped through.

    If asked my suggested slogan for the stupid out here would be;
    “Abbott doesn’t care”. Simple and true.

  42. Kaye Lee

    abbie,

    My mother who has Alzheimers lived with me for six years. The forms were so hard to fill in that I never claimed carer’s allowance. A man from the dementia support group came out once and said he would help me. He never came back and when I rang, he had changed jobs. I gave up. Having just tried to register my son for Newstart due to (hopefully) temporary medical incapacitation, I now want to poke myself in the eye. Carer’s are saving this country a fortune and contributing to the quality of life for those for whom they care. We should be doing everything in our power to help them because the cost of putting people into care far outweighs any miserly allowance we give to selfless people like yourself.

  43. abbienoiraude

    Thank you Kaye for validating the ‘work’ that I do but that is not recognised as a ‘proper’ job by those who think only money indicates worth.

    My daughter has recently had to escape DV and had to apply for Parenting Payments. Anyone who thinks it is easy has NO idea. She is a clever educated woman and was amazed that those who think sole parents have it easy and can rort the system are deluded.
    Medicare is the one thing that she can count on with her little one. It stretches across so many in our social spectrum. It helps and supports, saves, prevents, and gives a continuum to the health of the Australian people old, young, disabled, fragile, ailing, hurting.

    We must fight for its retention just like women must continue the fight for their rights against this archaic tyrannical PM and his cohorts.

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