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New campaign targets government inaction on medicare

Photo: New campaign targets government inaction on medicare
Australian radiologists have escalated a campaign against the Turnbull Government’s inaction on Medicare with a new national television commercial.

Produced by the Australian Diagnostic Imaging Association (ADIA), the campaign is titled MEDICARE – IGNORE IT AND IT WILL GO AWAY and began with a 30-second television commercial running on high rotation on Sky today (Tuesday 6 February 2018).

More than nine million Australians need radiology each year, with 26 million radiology scans and services undertaken. One in 10 GP visits results in a referral to a radiologist, with radiology essential for diagnosing, treatment and managing all cancers.

ADIA President Dr Siavash Es'haghi said the Government “must be held responsible” for the impact its policies are having on Medicare and patient care.
“Before the 2016 election, the Coalition collaborated with ADIA on a package of structural reforms and signed an agreement to end the 20-year freeze on Medicare rebates for radiology services when the GP rebate freeze ends,” he said.

“But the Government has not kept its promise. The GP rebate freeze is set to end on 1 July 2018, while more than 800 life-saving radiology items listed on Medicare remain frozen at 1998 levels.

“We are launching this campaign because our politicians have to realise that, if they continue to ignore the problems in Medicare, only patients that can pay large gaps will be able to afford the x-rays and scans they need.

“They know what the problems are. The Turnbull Government commissioned its own independent report by Deloitte that found a $711 million black hole in annual Medicare funding for radiology.

“Patients are suffering. The funding black hole means that 10% of Australia’s most vulnerable patients – pensioners and concession card holders – are not able to access bulk billed x-rays and scans and that more patients each year are forced to pay gaps. Average gaps are at $100 and are still rising.

Around 300,000 Australians are forgoing treatment every year because of cost.

“We are already creating a two-tiered health system between the haves and the have-nots – and that’s not what Medicare is supposed to be.”

Dr Siavash Es'haghi said ADIA would continue escalating its campaign until the Turnbull Government delivered on its promise.

“The nine million Australian patients who rely on radiology every year deserve to be treated better than this,” he said.

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