In this blog before the election, I highlighted the risks to Medicare in many posts. See links below:
John Menadue. Privatisation and the hollowing out of Medicare.
David Pope. Medicare – Eaten out from within.
Ian McAuley. Bill Shorten is right: Malcolm Turnbull is a major threat to Medicare.
Lesley Russell. It is disingenuous of the Coalition to claim it has no intention of privatising Medicare.
John Menadue. Facts on the $11 b p.a. private health insurance industry subsidy.
In addition to the case set out in the above posts, we should consider some important and related background. The Coalition has a record of privatisation in many fields.
- In technical education the Coalition has been undermining TAFE by subsidising private providers, including many shonky providers.
- The Coalition privatised Medibank.
- An adviser to Tony Abbott proposed to the Abbott government the introduction of the $6 co-payment for Medicare general practice services. That adviser suggested that anyone that didn’t like the co-payment should take out private health insurance. Tony Abbott has told us many times that ‘PHI is in the coalitions DNA’
- The friends of the Coalition appointed to the Commission of Audit recommended a co-payment of $15 per visit and suggested that public hospitals should charge public patients.
- The Abbott government announced changes to the Medicare rebate. That didn’t work politically so the government embarked on a five year freeze on the rebate.
- Then the Coalition backed a $57 billion saving over ten years on public hospitals.
It is clear to me that whilst the ‘shell’ of Medicare will remain it is being steadily eaten away from within, particularly by PHI. Further, the Coalition was taking every opportunity to cut Medicare spending in ways which would not upset its principal backers, PHI funds and private hospitals.
Bill Shorten was right to warn of the threat to Medicare.