||Issue No. 176||02 May 2003|
Interview: Staying Alive
Bad Boss: The Ultimate Piss Off
Industrial: Last Drinks
National Focus: Around the States
Politics: Radical Surgery
Education: The Price of Missing Out
Legal: If At First You Don't Succeed
History: Massive Attack
Culture: What's Right
Review: If He Should Fall
Poetry: If I Were a Rich Man
Satire: IMF Ensures Iraq Institutes Market Based Looting
The Locker Room
Bob Gould Sprays Gerard Henderson
War and Peace
A Strange Light
A Little History
Does It Have To Be?
Charities Brace for Medicare Backlash
That was the stark warning from St Vincent de Paul spokesman, Peter Rigg, as unions, community groups, health professionals, churches and political parties met in Melbourne to organise resistance to John Howard’s latest assault on Medicare.
Rigg said budget measures undermining bulk billing would see charities funding medical costs, on top of food, furniture, and clothing "for the first time in 30 years".
Labor leader Simon Crean set the agenda. His promise to resist the attacks on Medicare was endorsed by spokespersons for the Greens and Democrats.
Greens Senator, Kerry Nettle, went furthest calling for an end to private health care rebates which cost the public purse billions of dollars and have been identified as a key threat to the public system .
Health care unions laid out a fightback plan that will target Members of Parliament in 26 marginal Federal electorates. The MPs, predominantly Coalition representatives, will be subject to a concerted information campaign and asked to take public stands in support of Medicare.
NSW with 10 seats - Richmond, Page, Hunter, Paterson, Dobell, Parramatta, Macarthur, Lindsay, Cunningham and Eden Monaro - has most on the target list.
Speakers at last Friday's ACTU-organised Medicare Summit referred to OECD data which showed public health systems stacking up favourably against the private-dominated US system on a range of measures, including cost, efficiency and results in terms of life expectancy and infant mortality.
"The Australian community will not let Liberal Party vandals destroy Medicare and privatise the health system," ACTU president Sharan Burrow said in her keynote address.
"Australians already pay for their health insurance through general taxes and the Medicare levy. The Howard Government's plan would force people to pay a third time through GP co-payments or private health insurance.
"Rising health costs are already putting many working people under financial pressure, especially where a family member has a chronic condition. John Howard's changes will send some families to the wall."
Ms Burrow said that the inflationary impact of the Government's Medicare changes would lead to higher wage claims against employers. Health costs rose by 7.2 percent in the last 12 months - faster than any other CPI group, according to Bureau of Statistics data released last week.
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