Labor values the work GPs do and is keen to hear from them about the impact of these measures.
Labor has been consistent in its opposition to the GP Tax from the start. It is our strong view that seeking to discourage people from seeing a GP when all the evidence says GPs are the most efficient sector of the health system, is bad health policy. Putting a barrier between GPs and patients can only result in patients becoming sicker, with more people ending up in hospital, adding to costs in the health system.
That view remains.
This is why Labor opposed the Abbott-Turnbull Government’s attempt to cut the Medicare rebate by $5 and by more than $20 for consultations of less than 10 minutes.
Some of the changes were to commence from 19 January. These were changes the Abbott-Turnbull Government made without consultation and Labor would have moved to reverse them when the Senate next resumed
Despite an embarrassing last minute backflip on the $20 Medicare rebate cut, the Abbott-Turnbull Government remains committed to the imposition of a GP Tax.
The Government's own MPs have been critical of the shambolic and mean spirited handling of this health policy, but it is only Labor that is standing up for patients and demanding it be dropped altogether.
Labor continues to oppose these changes because they will force GPs to either increase gap payments, or begin charging patients who were previously bulk-billed. Labor sees this as an attack on Medicare that will undermine its fundamental principle – universal access.
Since coming to office it has become patently clear that the Abbott-Turnbull Government seeks to end bulk billing. This is part of its plan to render Medicare a residual system rather than the universal health insurance scheme it is today.
I can assure you that as a member of the Party that introduced Medicare I – along with my Labor colleagues - will continue to stand up for it.
I am proud that when Labor was last in government bulk billing rates were at their highest level in history. This is what Labor continues to stand up for and will continue to defend.
I would encourage you to express your concern regarding these changes by signing the petition available at http://www.savemedicare.org.au/ .