Chair of the AMA's Public Health Committee, Dr John Gullotta, said today that Labor's decision to support the Medicare Safety Net will bring comfort to Australian families who battle with medical bills.
Dr Gullotta said bipartisan support for the Safety Net was overdue but welcome.
"The Safety Net was highlighted as a weak spot for Labor in the AMA's Key Health Issues election document, which makes their policy turnaround on the weekend particularly pleasing," Dr Gullotta said.
"Since its introduction in 2004, the Safety Net has become an important part of the health system.
"More than a million people receive assistance with their out-of-pocket medical expenses.
"The Safety Net eases the financial pressure on many working Australians.
"It makes health care more affordable and accessible for the less well off in the community.
"But whoever wins Government must not allow their focus to stray from the inadequacies of the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS).
"The Safety Net has grown in stature because the MBS has failed to keep pace with the increased costs of providing medical services.
"Proper indexation of the MBS must be a priority for the incoming Government," Dr Gullotta said.
Dr Gullotta said there must also be a public education campaign about access to the Medicare Safety Net.
"A lot of patients who qualify for the Safety Net may not know about the benefits that are available or how to access them," Dr Gullotta said.