Some of Australia’s leading doctors have come out swinging and issued a stern warning to new Health Minister Greg Hunt about Medicare.
Doctors from the Australian Medical Association (AMA) say they are genuinely concerned the government will increase the Medicare levy in the next budget, leaving millions of Aussies out of pocket.
“We’ve heard many rumours that the government is looking at an increase to the Medicare levy,” AMA vice president Tony Bartone told Yahoo News.
He said there are fears the government could raise the levy by a whopping five per cent in a bid to reduce debt and get the budget back in the black, instead of using the extra cash to boost the health system.
A five per cent increase would produce around $4 billion in extra revenue for the government, but if that money isn’t being used to improve health services around the country Mr Bartone says it’s just plain wrong.
“We’re asking the government to channel every single dollar of that increase into Medicare and public hospital funding,” he said.
The government has been plagued by rumours it will increase fees and costs under Medicare ever since the election last year when Labor ran a ‘scare campaign’ on the issue.
With Sussan Ley booted out only two weeks ago, the pressure is on Mr Hunt to rise to the occasion.
He has said he has a strong commitment to Medicare, but didn’t rule out any changes to it in the budget.
“I have, and we have, a rock solid commitment to the future of Medicare,” he said last week.
Many are already starting to worry about how changes to the system would affect them, with over 60s particularly affected by GP fees and hospital visits.