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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Medicare: a problem « Previous | |Next »
July 11, 2004

This account by Max Walsh of MedicarePlus is about right. He says that Tony Abbott was parachuted into the health portfolio to salvage what was fast becoming a political black hole for the government.

Abbott succeeded in plugging the blackhole. Health is not a big issue in the election campaign.The ALP has lost is historic advantage. However, there is a cost for this political fix. Walsh highlights the key problem:

"The central feature of the safety net is that it does away with the concept of a scheduled fee as a means of capping the exposure of the tax coffers to the demands of the medical profession....Abbott rejects that the medical profession will increase fees, saying it is not out to rip off people. But he has changed the rules of the marketplace .... In fact, Abbott has given the green light to obstetricians and surgeons to change their way of billing patients by shifting the major element of their fees onto surgery consultations rather than hospital fees. While this could mean lower costs to patients, it is much more likely this will be shared between doctor and patient."

Was Abbott's refusal to cap specialist fees a way of keeping the AMA onside, whilst the Medicare doors were opened to the allied health professsionals?

Is the ALP quietly dumping its universality principle in the name of economic responsibility? What does that mean for health reforms?

It has accepted the Howard Government's principle of a mix of public coverage bolstered by heavily subsidised private insurance. Labor is committed to maintaining the 30 per cent rebate for private health insurance. It has agreed to the Howard Government's changes to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

What does universality mean when all this is in place?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:42 PM | | Comments (0)