House debates

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Statements by Members


1:32 pm

Photo of Anne AlyAnne Aly (Cowan, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

July 1—that's the date Australians will be confronted with some of the most radical changes to the Medicare rebate that will mean they will be out of pocket for hundreds of orthopaedic, cardiac and general surgery items. The plan to cut the Medicare rebate means patients must choose between cancelling life-changing surgeries and being hit with huge bills they were never told about. I realise that those changes are based on recommendations by the MBS Review Taskforce—

Mr Laming interjecting

Photo of Llew O'BrienLlew O'Brien (Wide Bay, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for Bowman!

Photo of Anne AlyAnne Aly (Cowan, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

but the fact is that the government have bungled the implementation of those recommendations, and, once again, Australians are going to be left out of pocket or, worse, in life-threatening conditions because of this incompetence.

I remind the House, and those interjecting, that this is not the first time the government have ventured down this road. In November 2018 they presided over the debacle that saw patients left out of pocket, spinal surgeries delayed and doctors unable to provide patients with informed consent about potential gap fees. Back then those changes involved only 70 spinal surgery items. Next month we are looking at over 1,000 surgery items. One might say that the government have failed to learn their lesson, but I say that it's not in their DNA to protect Medicare. They've got eight days to fix this problem and demonstrate that Medicare, which Labor installed, is worth protecting—but I'm not holding my breath!