Christmas Message 2016

I hope all Australians have a Caring Christmas and a Healthy New Year.

Thank you to everyone who has in some way supported a stronger Medicare, even if it was just by chatting among friends.

During this festive time let us not forget Rural and Regional Australians:

  • They have worse health outcomes than their city cousins, have to suffer Fires, Droughts and Floods that impact whole communities and some have to travel huge distances to access needed health services.
  • Family Doctors and other health professionals battle rising costs to maintain bulk billing and purchase up to date equipment in the face of the rebate freeze.
  • Some Family Doctors will be impacted by the new rent controls restricting the rent they can charge the few large pathology companies that dominate the industry. The AMA says “The changes are being reported as saving pathology companies around $150 million a year, with most of this money being taken out of general practice”
  • After recent rebate changes some pregnant women may have to pay upfront  for pathology and diagnostic imaging to check their unborn baby before they get some refund.  Dont forget those with serious ageing and health issues who need many tests.
  • Some of the taxes paid by Rural communities (who include some of the poorest electorates in the nation) are used to subsidise the private health industry, whose services unfortunately tend to cluster around  wealthier city areas.

We have a huge challenge ahead, to have Medicare fully funded in the future, to give Australians confidence that the public health system will look after them and their children, in the times ahead.

I think early attention to health problems is a critical priority, before  those problems grow to clog hospitals and swamp other health services.

I also think properly addressing mental health and addiction issues are core needs of a revised funding strategy.

Mark Rogers