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Knives circle Medicare « Previous | |Next »
March 9, 2003

Two quotes from senior Government ministers courtesy of Mike Carleton at the Sydney Morning Herald.

The first is from John Howard, the Prime Minister, who says:

"It is simply not possible for the Government and it has never been possible for this Government and it was never the design within the contemplation of the former government that we could guarantee bulk-billing for every Australian citizen. That is not my understanding of universality. It never has been, it isn't and it never will be."
The second is from the Petrer Costello, the federal Treasurer, delivered within hours of the first, and spoken from the same script:

"The Government's view on bulk-billing is that it's important for pensioners or low-income earners. But it is never and was never intended to be universal to everybody, including those on high incomes. But we think it's important to ensure that people on low incomes continue to have access but we've not argued, the Labor Party has never argued, the founders of Medicare have never argued that it needs to be universal, 100 per cent."

The code is fairly clear. We don't like Medicare. Never have. Its smacks of socialism, which as we all know, strangles people's freedom of choice. It has to go to, and to be replaced with a US-style deregulated system. But we cannot launch a frontal assault on it because it is very popular in the community. So we will starve it of funds and talk about a safety net for the deserving poor whilst pouring billions to prop up the private health funds.

The knives are out. Why? Money is needed to fight the war against Iraq. So a bit of slash and burn of the welfare state is needed. A justification for displacing public health is given by Scott Wickstein who argues that Medicare is roughly equivalent to a free lunch. and that equity is provided by the deregulated market & safety net. There are good informed comments there and Scott is having a bit of trouble persuading his readers.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:29 AM | | Comments (0)