MEDIA RELEASE: Women's health week the time for Turnbull to reverse his cuts, 5 September 2016

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
 

CATHERINE KING MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND MEDICARE
MEMBER FOR BALLARAT

 

WOMEN’S HEALTH WEEK THE TIME FOR TURNBULL TO REVERSE HIS CUTS

Women’s Health Week 2016 is an opportunity to raise awareness about health issues facing Australian women, and to look at the future of women’s health care under the Turnbull Government’s savage cuts to health.

The theme of this year’s Women’s Health Week is ‘Am I normal?’, encouraging women to talk about the ‘elephants in the room’- such as body image, weight, mental health and sex.

Labor hopes that the Turnbull Government will use this week to reflect on how its policies are hurting women and finally drop their health cuts.

Data from the Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health program, defunded by this Government after 18 years of invaluable research on general practice, shows that women visit a GP an average of seven times a year – twice as often as men. Women are also more likely to visit medical specialists.

As a result, women will be hit harder by the Government’s GP Tax by stealth, the six-year freeze on Medicare rebates. Practices around Australia are already being forced to abandon bulk billing and increase co-payments.

Women will also be hit harder by the Government’s cuts to Medicare bulk billing incentives for vital tests and scans, like pap smears and ultrasounds. Around 60 per cent of Medicare pathology and diagnostic imaging services are provided to women.

Forcing women to pay more to see doctors and have vital tests makes absolutely no sense when many Australian women already struggle to afford health care.

One in 17 women already delay or avoid seeing a GP because of cost, compared to one in 25 men. For some age groups the data is even worse, with one in 11 women aged 25 to 34 years old skipping seeing a GP because of cost – at exactly the time when they are most likely to become mothers.

One in 11 women also delay or avoid filling a prescription due to cost – which will only get worse when the Government hikes the price of medicines by up to $5.

That’s why Labor committed during the election campaign to unfreeze Medicare rebates, restore the Government’s cuts to pathology and diagnostic imaging, and reverse the Government’s price hike to medicines.

Labor also committed to making women’s health a national priority by adopting the Australian Women’s Health Charter, as proposed by the Australian Women’s Health Network. As part of this pledge, Labor committed to developing a National Women’s Health Policy, funding the Women’s Health Network to continue their important work, and convening a national conference on women’s health.

In contrast, two months after the Prime Minister said he would learn the lesson of the election, he has done absolutely nothing to reverse the Government’s savage health cuts which will impact every Australian woman.

More information on Women’s Health Week is available at www.womenshealthweek.com.au.