House debates

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Matters of Public Importance

Medicare

3:25 pm

Photo of Sussan LeySussan Ley (Farrer, Liberal Party, Minister for Sport) Share this | Hansard source

Our healthcare homes are something that was actually advised to Labor in 2009 but they ignored. So they could have done this but they did not. Doctors are coming to the table with a plan, with implementation and with ideas, and we are having a really positive discussion. Remember that the reforms that we are going to make in the delivery of health will be done in partnership with clinicians. That has been my determination every step of the way. It is not just about the bureaucracy. It is not just about things being done at a level that only looks at one side of the discussion. It is about recognising what is good clinical practice. It is about recognising that good clinical practice engages the patient, as our healthcare homes model will. It will engage the patient in their own care.

Consider our reforms to mental health—almost $100 million more was added during the campaign for something that is a huge priority of the Prime Minister, that matters to every Australian, that sees a stepped care model available depending on where you are on the steps of treatment, that will see patients no longer discharged into a vacuum, that will join up the acute hospital setting with the primary care setting and that will wrap that care around the patient in a way that our mental health practitioners and the community sector tell us has not happened till now and is broadly welcomed, particularly in regional Australia.

I want to come back to Labor's record because we have not seen a Labor government for a while. We want to know what Labor did. So this is what they did. When they were in government they cut over $6 billion from Medicare and medicines. I have just talked about the $4 billion that we are adding over the next four years. They cut $6 billion. They were actually the first ones to introduce a pause on Medicare indexation. You know how they did it. They attacked doctors' wages. A previous health care minister—I am not going to name her; she is still in parliament—actually said, 'Doctors make enough money. They can suck it up.' That is what a previous Labor health minister said. This coalition health minister says to doctors, 'We want to work in partnership with you. We know it's tough. We are dealing with Labor's debt. We are dealing with a fiscal situation and we want to work in partnership.' A previous Labor health minister—and I wonder if this shadow minister says the same thing behind closed doors—said, 'Doctors earn enough. They can suck it up. Let's not worry about that.'

So that is what Labor did. We are talking about diagnostic imaging and pathology. Labor cut $1.4 billion from diagnostic imaging and pathology. Labor took out a billion dollars a year from Medicare for dental services and they put it in a means-tested scheme where it only helped a third of the kids. The member for Sydney has gone very quiet on that because she has actually recognised that what we have done is introduce the first sustainable public dental scheme that will make a difference at every level.

Labor cut billions from the private health insurance rebate. That previous minister for health said, 'You know where I went to for my savings? I went to private health.' At one stage the private health insurance premium went up 30 per cent almost overnight and that Labor minister for health was proud of it. Talk about attacking patients. Talk about attacking families. Talk about not recognising how to build a sustainable system. There is plenty more. Labor broke a $57 billion promise on hospitals. They talked about it and talked about it, the member for Ballarat tried to get questions up everywhere she went and then all of a sudden during the campaign the Leader of the Opposition just stopped talking about it. The shadow minister stopped talking about it. Suddenly it evaporated. It was their promise and they broke it.

We have a Medical Research Future Fund that will build to a billion dollars disbursements a year. That is a fantastic addition to actually find the cures for the future. What did Labor do in government? They tried to take out $400 million but then everyone caught them out, so they sneakily put it back. They waged war on future cures to diseases when they did that. They took money out of medical research. Shame, Labor, shame. They cut $1.6 billion from aged care funding without fixing the problem. They talked the big talk on mental health, but they actually wrote a road map to nowhere. We are working on the problems of everyday Australians. (Time expired)

Comments

Tibor Majlath
Posted on 2 Sep 2016 3:03 pm (Report this comment)

The Minister says that Labor put in a means-tested dental scheme where it only helped a third of the kids. That is a novel spin on the situation.

The Minister seems oblivious to her own department's report "Third Review of the Dental Benefits Act 2008" dated 17 December 2015 which states :-

"The Panel noted that this utilization rate was considerably lower than originally projected, but was of the view that this may reflect an unrealistic original target, rather than significant underutilization."

Premiums went up on average 5.78 to 6.20 per cent per year over the period in question. Where did the Minister get 30%? Just can't believe anything raised in parliament.

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