Australian Greens Leader and public health specialist, Dr Richard Di Natale, has today announced the Greens plan to phase out the private health insurance rebate and reinvest the savings in the public health system, including reinstating hospital funding now and for the long-term.
“It’s never easy to talk about withdrawing subsidies in an election year,” said Senator Di Natale. “But the Greens have the courage to call the private health insurance rebate what it is – unfair, inflationary and inefficient.
“The private health insurance rebate is a public policy disaster that has completely failed to achieve its stated objective of easing pressure on public hospitals. If the $5 billion a year subsidy was reinvested back into the public health system it would take the pressure off hospital waiting lists, reduce waiting times in the ED and help fund public dental care.
“The Abbott/Turnbull Government has taken Australia’s hospitals to the edge of a funding cliff that will decimate the health system and its only proposal for dealing with this issue is to dump the problem entirely on the states and territories in a desperate act of political cowardice.
“This is the latest thought bubble from a dithering government without the vision or courage to take on real reform.
“It is a recipe for spiralling health costs and increasing co-payments as federal governments try to shift costs from primary care onto more expensive state funded hospitals. Cost shifting between state and federal governments is one of the biggest problems in the health system and this proposal will make things worse.
“The Greens understand that the only way to protect the health care of every Australian is to make health a priority and invest in it. That’s why the Greens are committed to investing billions back in the hospital system by reinstating the hospital funding formula that this government abandoned.
“We must put an end to the blame game that has dominated hospital funding for years by enshrining the funding formula in law, guaranteeing long-term certainty for state governments, hospitals and patients around the country. By requiring the approval of Parliament for any funding change we can protect our hospitals from future governments as reckless as this one.
“The Greens see health as an investment, not a cost. Ensuring that our health system will always be accessible, affordable and universal is our priority. Private health insurance is a legitimate choice for many people, but the Greens want to build a world class public health system, so that private health insurance remains a choice rather than a necessity.”