AMA President, Professor Brian Owler, said today that the sickest and most disadvantaged Australians will be hit hardest by changes to Medicare Safety Net arrangements, which were introduced to Parliament by the Government this morning.
Prof Owler says the AMA opposes the changes because they wind back financial assistance to patients for their out of hospital health care costs, with vulnerable patients to feel the most pain.
“The new Medicare Safety Net arrangements, together with the ongoing freeze of Medicare patient rebates, mean that growing out-of-pocket costs will become a reality for all Australian families, including the most vulnerable patients in our community,” Prof Owler says.
“For example, the new arrangements will affect people who need mental health treatments that are not available in the public sector.
“They will also affect people who have cancer treatment provided in the community.”
With higher out of pocket costs, patients will delay seeking treatment, or not seek treatment at all, he says.
“The current safety net arrangements, particularly the Extended Medicare Safety Net, were designed to help people with the out-of-pocket costs they experienced as a result of Medicare rebates no longer reflecting the true costs of providing quality private medical care.
“The new arrangements will be a burden for Australian families. They must be voted down.”
The new Medicare Safety Net arrangements were announced in the 2014-15 Budget (May 2014), with savings of $266.7 million over five years, and a start date of 1 January 2016.