Socialists reject medicare co-payment proposal

December 30, 2013

Socialist Alliance WA senate candidate Alex Bainbridge has added his voice to those rejecting a proposed $5 or $6 Medicare co-payment.

"We should be moving in the direction of reducing out of pocket costs for medical care not increasing them," said Bainbridge.

"The proposal to introduce a co-payment is a major attack on Medicare which has already been significantly undermined since it was first introduced," Bainbridge said.

"Already almost one fifth of health costs are borne by consumers through out-of-pocket expenses according to a Consumers Health Forum report. Further, the numbers of people delaying a visit to the doctor for financial reasons has significantly increased in recent years."

Advocates of the co-payment claim that Medicare is financially unsustainable. However, the reality is that there could be plenty of money to fund free health care for all.

There could be a hugecash injection into Medicare and the public hospital system simply by redirecting government subsidies for private health insurance to funding health services directly. "These subsidies boost the profits of private health insurance corporations at the expense of providing adequate funds to the public health system," Bainbridge said.

"Further funds could be gained by increasing corporate taxation and reforming the taxation system to increase taxes on the very rich while reducing taxes on the poor."

Bainbridge said that the Abbott government should reject any suggestion of introducing a Medicare co-payment.

"As well as being morally objectionable, a co-payment would paradoxically increase overall health costs as delayed treatment would result in an increase in more expensive procedures being needed," he said.

The proposal to introduce a co-payment has been rejected by the Doctors Reform Society and the Australian Medical Association.

[Visit WA Socialist Alliance for more information.]

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