Scott Morrison and the Liberal government have spent a decade attacking Medicare, trying to introduce a compulsory $7 co-payment, freezing rebates cutting $2.6 billion from Medicare, abolishing psychiatry telehealth items, removing regional bulk billing incentives, and making 900 cuts and changes to Medicare rebates – like hip replacements and knee surgery.
Australian primary care is now in crisis and, thanks to Liberal attacks, average out of pocket costs to see a GP have increased by 33 per cent under this government.
In 2019 the Morrison Government announced a 10-year Primary Healthcare Plan allocating $450 million for its implementation, stating “As the first step in the 10-Year Plan, the Steering Group will advise on the implementation of the $448.5 million 2019-20 Budget measure.”
Like so many Morrison Government announcements, nothing was ever delivered and the allocated funding has since been cut from primary healthcare. General practice remains in crisis with the Australian Medical Association last month stating:
“This is the product of deliberate Government policy over many years that has taken general practice for granted.”
“The AMA had hoped the Commonwealth’s attitude to general practice would change, however, the long-awaited Primary Health Care 10 Year Plan released in last week’s Budget was simply more of the same. It delivered a welcome vision for general practice, but no funding to deliver that vision.”
The Morrison Government has abandoned GPs and primary care, and decided dealing with the crisis they have created is all too hard.
Labor will address the primary healthcare crisis, delivering leadership, coordination, and badly needed funding.
Labor will establish the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce, to be Chaired by the Minister for Health, bringing together Australia’s health policy leaders, including the Australian Medical Association, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine, the Consumer Health Forum, and the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation. Labor will consult with additional stakeholders on the full membership of the Taskforce in government, including representatives from nursing and allied health.
The Strengthening Medicare Taskforce will work to deliver concrete results for patients, including:
The Taskforce will make concrete recommendations by the end of the year, to be implemented as a matter of urgency, and will commence its work upon Labor forming government and its establishment.
This will not be another talkfest to delay real change.
Labor’s Strengthening Medicare Taskforce will build on previous work to decide on and deliver the highest priorities to start fixing the primary healthcare crisis.
The Strengthening Medicare Taskforce will be backed by $750 million of additional investment over the forward estimates – $250 million per year from 2023-24 – to deliver the highest priority investments in Medicare, in line with the priorities of the Taskforce.
This additional investment will deliver on the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce recommendations. Unlike the Morrison Liberals, it will not be syphoned off and cut in government.
Only Labor can be trusted to Strengthen Medicare and end the primary care crisis.