Owens, Shorten voice concerns on GP tax at Harris Park clinic

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Julie Owens, Member for Parramatta, and Bill Shorten, Leader of the Opposition, visited Priority Medical Centre on 21 May to talk about the effects of a GP Tax on families in Harris Park.

“This GP Tax will have a huge effect on the local community in Harris Park – asking families and elderly people to pay to stay healthy is just not fair,” said Julie Owens.

“A GP Tax would mean that it is more difficult for the most disadvantaged families to get the treatment they need such as check-ups, immunisations and blood tests.”

The Abbott Government’s GP Tax stands to hit Western Sydney families harder than anywhere else in Australia. In Parramatta this will cost families more than $9.1 million every year.

For frequent visitors to the doctor, a GP Tax could mean hundreds of dollars a year – something many pensioners and families cannot afford.

Bulk billing clinics like Priority Medical Centre are also well set up to address the needs of a multilingual and culturally diverse community like Harris Park.

In the Indian community, where diabetes rates are higher than in the general population, many of those who receive frequent treatment will now pay $7 for every visit to the doctor and every pathology test.

“The Abbott Government is hitting patients with chronic illnesses the hardest, such as those with diabetes,” said Ms Owens.

“We should be encouraging these people to stay healthy through regular check-ups with their local GP, not making it harder.”

Labor believes that all Australians should get the healthcare they need – not just the healthcare Tony Abbott says they can afford.  

In addition, Tony Abbott’s own budget papers show he will also force Australian families to pay an extra $1.3 billion for medicines over the next four years. For patients here in Parramatta, the cost of medicines will rise to $42.70 and for concessional patients the cost will be $6.90.  

And local health and hospital services will get $1.3 billion less as part of a major cut to public hospitals. The cuts include $118 million at the Western Sydney Local Health District (including Westmead Hospital) and a share of $50 million at Westmead Children’s Hospital.

“This is a hit on the most vulnerable people in our community. It hits the elderly, families with sick kids and those with disabilities the hardest.”

Published in The Indian Sun, Indian magazine Sydney

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