All Australians should be able to access health care when and where they need it.

That’s why Labor believes access to health care should rely on your Medicare card not your credit card.

Labor gave Australians Medicare and we will always protect it.

Malcolm Turnbull has spent his first year trying to privatise the Medicare payments system and other parts of our universal public health insurance scheme, ignoring patients and experts and making health care even less affordable for millions of Australians.

What is the Turnbull Government doing to Australia’s universal health care system?

  1.   Cuts to Medicare for pathology tests and scans

Mr Turnbull cut $650 million from Medicare in the mid year budget review.

This includes cuts to Medicare for pathology tests and scans including MRI, X-Rays, CAT scans and mammograms.

This will affect patients being diagnosed and treated for cancer and other serious health conditions.

Patients will face higher out of pocket costs, and in some cases be forced to fork out thousands of dollars upfront, for these tests.

These cuts drive down bulk-billing, drive up out of pocket costs, and could deter people from getting crucial scans and tests.

The Australian Medical Association has said this would increase costs for Australians, particularly the sickest and poorest patients.

"These measures are simply resurrecting a part of the Government's original ill-fated co-payment proposal from the 2014 budget.”

“It is yet another co-payment by stealth,"

"The AMA strongly opposes the measures."

– Australian Medical Association – Brian Owler [1]

The president of the Royal College of Pathologists Australasia, Michael Harrison, said new co-payment fees could cause some patients to avoid havingimportant tests done.

"This could have untold effects across health care, including: delaying the effective early diagnosis of cancer leading to premature deaths; compromising the effective treatment of diabetes and chronic diseases; and threatening the services of rural pathology,"

– Royal College of Pathologists – Michael Harrison [1]

  1. Implemented a GP-tax by stealth

The Liberals and Nationals have extended the freeze on Medicare rebates to six years – an ice age that is already forcing out-of-pocket costs up.

Malcolm Turnbull's freeze will reduce bulk billing, and drive even more patients into already overcrowded emergency departments.

When one in 20 Australians already delays or avoids visiting a GP because of cost, the last thing our health system needs is more barriers to primary care.

  1. Cuts to hospital funding

The Liberals and Nationals have cut billions from our hospitals which are already under pressure:

These cuts affect every hospital in every State and Territory.

This will have a real impact on patients with increasing emergency waiting times, longer waits for elective surgery and less hospital beds.

  1. Increasing the cost of prescription medicine

Mr Turnbull supports increasing the cost of prescription Medicine:

He has voted to increase the cost of medicine by up to $5 per script [3].

These charges would hit pensioners and some of Australia’s sickest patients with higher prices for essential medicine.

Labor has blocked the increase in the Senate, but Mr Turnbull has kept this policy in his Budget.

The Government has tried to distance itself from this policy, but:

The prescription price increases were reconfirmed in the Budget handed down by Mr Turnbull.

It remains government policy.


  1. SMH 16 Dec 2015, Turnbull government introduces 'co-payment by stealth', doctors say
  3. Open Australia - Malcolm Turnbull voted very strongly for increasing the price of subsidised medicine