Coalition plan to axe Medicare Locals puts health care at risk

20 August 2013

Stephen_Jones-002.jpgFront line health care services are at risk from a Coalition plan to axe Labors Medicare Locals.

Federal Member for Throsby Stephen Jones said Tony Abbott plans to scrap the Illawarra Shoalhaven Medicare Local and sack its 37 frontline health workers should the Coalition win government.

Labor established Medicare Locals to fill critical gaps in primary health care such as mental health and for the management of chronic diseases like diabetes, said Jones.

Recent National Diabetes Services Scheme figures show that the Illawarra is ground zero for diabetes, with the number recorded in Wollongong (6.4 per cent) and Shellharbour (6.6 per cent) well above the national average of 5.6 per cent.

The axing of Medicare Locals would be a savage cut to some of the most vital health services for those suffering in the region, said Jones.

The Coalition has a poor track record on primary health care and has always had Medicare in its sights.

In the Howard years, when Tony Abbott was health minister, he cut $1 billion from public hospitals and bulk billing was at an all-time low of just 67 per cent.

This is compared to the almost 92 per cent that people in the Illawarra are experiencing at the moment under Labor.

My question to Tony Abbotts Throsby candidate is this: will they stand up for the 37 front line health workers and the people of the Illawarra, or will they fall into line with Tony Abbotts negative plan to abolish Medicare Locals.