The silence from the Health Minister, Michael Ferguson, over the Abbot government’s planned $7 GP co-payment will dismay many Tasmanians, particularly those on low incomes who will be hit hard by this Federal Budget measure, Greens Health spokesperson Cassy O’Connor MP said today
“Other Liberal Health Ministers and Premiers around the nation have publicly and angrily opposed the GP $7 co-payments, stressing the increased pressure it will place upon already overburdened public hospitals, especially emergency departments,” Ms O’Connor said.
“In stark contrast, Tasmania’s Health Minister could not detail whether or how he has advocated on behalf of Tasmanians against the GP co-payment to his federal counterpart. A rational person would interpret Mr Ferguson’s silence on the impact of the co-payment as implicit support for this Budget measure.”
“Health stakeholders including the Australian Medical Association and the Australian Nurses Federation have raised serious concerns that the co-payment will not only undermine the principle of universal health care, but will also result in Tasmanians on low incomes avoiding a visit to their GP.”
“This will increase the level of chronic illness in our community, and push to breaking point our already stretched public hospitals.”
“Yet, apparently Minister Ferguson is prepared to accept this inequitable co-payment proposal as a fait accompli.”
“Mr Ferguson also confirmed today that the Abbott Government’s first Budget would rip $232 million out of the state’s public health system over the next four years. It is not possible to run a safe, accessible public hospital system with this level of cuts to the Health budget.
“The Minister could not say in Parliament today what he will do to protect Tasmania’s public health system from the ideological savagery of the Abbott Budget.
“Tasmanians deserve better, they deserve someone who will stand up for their access to affordable health services, and who will stand up for our public hospital system,” Ms O’Connor said.