Hot on the heals of a cynical mid-holiday season announcement that Ear, Nose and Throat surgeries will be taken off the Medical Benefits Schedule, rumours are circulating in Canberra that the government plans to announce a major and contentious overhaul of the Public Health system, to be revealed at 23:59 on New Years Eve.
In what would be a master stroke delivering near to 100% savings from the current cost of running the Australian Health system, it is believed the government intends to implement sweeping changes whereby only people who are currently healthy and have no injuries will be eligible for coverage. It’s understood that by automatically cancelling the public health coverage for anyone when they become sick, or are injured, the cost of running the public health system should be returned to pre-Whitlam era levels while still offering a leading health system that is the envy of most of the developed world.
Called the “Catch-22” option, only those people who don’t need the public health system will be eligible to access the public health system. If they need access to the public health system, they will temporarily lose access to the it, but upon becoming well again, will have their access to the public health system immediately restored. As a deal sweetener, it’s understood that limited access to the public health system will be restored to people who die, since they too are unlikely to be a financial burden on the public health system.
With an urgent need to offer more tax breaks for large companies already paying no tax, a growing requirement to offer more subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, and an ongoing need to provide maximum travel entitlements to MPs and their families, the government is desperate to source funding from anywhere other than standard revenue raising options, such as raising taxes, reducing subsidies or cutting travel entitlements. The alternative – raising the GST – has been quietly abandoned once it was pointed out to the government that rich people buy things as well, and a GST rise would result in alienating those same rich people who sponsor political parties. Since the sort of rich people who sponsor political parties are invariably rich enough to have sufficient private health insurance and coverage, the chances of them being impacted by sweeping reforms to the public health system are negligible.