With the Health Insurance Amendment (Extended Medicare Safety Net) Bill 2009 to be considered by the Senate this week, the AMA today calls on the Government to make public the safety net economic modelling that underpins a policy that will make vital medical services more expensive for working Australians.
Under the Bill, patients would pay more for private obstetric services and assisted reproductive technologies (ART), better known as IVF.
AdvertisementAMA President, Dr Andrew Pesce, said that the Government had made some concessions following lobbying by the medical profession, but the changes do not go far enough to ease the financial burden on families.
"The key issue in this debate is the economic impact this Bill will have on struggling families who need specialist medical services outside the hospital," Dr Pesce said.
"There have been attempts to shift the justification for the safety net changes onto doctors' charges - but this is a furphy.
"And the Government will not release the modelling they say justifies the safety net changes.
"The people who will pay more for services because of this Bill have the right to know why the Government thinks they should pay more to have children.
"The Extended Medicare Safety Net has helped many people get timely access to medical care they would not have received otherwise, due to economic hardship.
"The AMA calls on the Government to withdraw this Bill until it releases the modelling that has inspired a policy that will hurt innocent families at a time of widespread economic uncertainty - and properly consults with the medical profession," Dr Pesce said.
Dr Pesce said the Government must also reconsider its Budget decisions to slash Medicare rebates for a range of medical services including cataract surgery and coronary angiography, and reverse its decision to remove Medicare items for synovial joint injections (for painful arthritic conditions), which will affect thousands of elderly Australians.
"These ill-informed and misguided decisions are due to come before the Parliament in October under the Health Insurance (General Medical Service Table) Regulations," Dr Pesce said.