Before the recent backflip on plans to cut the rebate for short GP visits by $20 Tim Woodruff made a comment on the plans. There were three parts to the proposed changes:
The first is a direct cut of $5 to the Medicare rebate for everyone except pensioners and health care card holders. The ALP, Greens, and some crossbenchers have indicated they disagree with this so it may never happen as it must pass the Senate.
The second is to freeze the rebate until 2018 which means that because of inflation, this will amount to a $3 cut to the rebate for everyone by 2018. This can’t be stopped as it doesn’t require parliamentary approval.
The third part of the proposal, however, is to reduce by $20 rebates for visits less than 10 minutes in duration. The Government claims that this is intended to reduce “6 minute medicine”…
Only the third of these has been abandoned.
There are two points to be made about this.
First, the Government’s aims have not changed. They want the poor to go to the doctor less to ‘save’ Medicare, or as Woodruff suggests to institute a two-tiered medical system.
The Federal Government wants a two-tiered health system where credit cards decide what level of care one receives. This is the American way. The next proposal may be to replace our flag with the Stars and Stripes.
Secondly, the politics is just awful. As Norman Abjorensen points out, new minister Sussan Ley was sent out to dump proposals that Abbott had robustly defended not 24 hours earlier.
Was Abbott rolled? What does Julie Bishop think? Why did they get themselves into this mess in the first place? Clearly they didn’t sound out the senate cross bench.
Abjorensen says the question now is not whether Medicare will survive Abbott, but whether Abbott will survive Medicare. No wonder he looks worried:
Photographers can be cruel!
Tim Woodruff is currently the vice-president of the Doctors Reform Society and a specialist physician working in private rheumatology practice in Melbourne.