Government changes put health services at risk
Regional and rural Australians have been dealt a blow today with the Gillard Government passing legislation to means-test the Private Health Insurance Rebate, Member for Parkes Mark Coulton stated.
Mr Coulton said this was an incredibly short sighted piece of legislation that will strain public health services and put private health institutions under huge financial pressure.
“I am strongly opposed to this Bill,” Mr Coulton said. “Not only will this legislation be detrimental to the people that I represent in the seat of Parkes, it will be detrimental to the country as a whole as it will put tremendous stress on the public health system.”
“Nationally, about 40% of regional Australians hold private health insurance. In the Parkes electorate around 30% are covered with private health insurance. This is a significant number.”
“There is an assumption that not enough people in regional areas would be affected by the proposed means test thresholds. However, the exodus from private health insurance because of this legislation will force premiums up an estimated 10% for those left in health schemes, putting health insurance beyond the reach of lower income earners and causing a second exodus. Simply once the insurance pool shrinks, premiums go up.”
Mr Coulton explained that private health services in regional areas will be significantly affected by the passing of this legislation.
“We are very fortunate to be well serviced in the Parkes Electorate by the public health system of multi-purpose services in smaller towns and great hospitals such as the Dubbo Base Hospital in our regional centres. However, we have a synergy between the public health system and the private health system that will be at risk because of this foolish legislation.”
“The private hospital in Tamworth I the seat of New England services many constituents in the north of my electorate. It is my understanding that the Tamara Private Hospital will struggle to keep its doors open as result of this legislation forcing people out of private health insurance.”
“Families and individuals want the security of having the doctor of their choice and the treatment they need, when they need it. While often that may mean going to a regional centre or a capital city for treatment, regional people understand that, but still have the peace of mind of their choice of doctor and no waiting lists.”
“Regional areas rely on visiting specialist to visit private hospitals from metropolitan areas. People in my electorate can travel from as far as Bourke to access a specialist doctor in Dubbo at the private hospital. This Bill will deny regional patients local access to the expertise and services they need, and forcing those patients to travel further, and at greater cost, for consultations and treatments.”
“Ultimately this Bill will not deliver money back to health care. It is all about the Government’s bottom line and they are targeting families who take responsibility for their own health care to compensate for its own waste and mismanagement.”
“It is very disappointing this legislation has passed.”