Doorstop Interview - Celebrating Medicare's 20th Anniversary
Celebrating Medicare's 20th Anniversary.
View by date:Previous Ministers
2 February 2004
Doorstop Interview - Celebrating Medicare's 20th Anniversary,
Mt Ommaney Medicare Offfice, Brisbane
Thanks, thanks very much, Jeff, and it's great everyone, including the hard-working counter staff over there, who don't take time off for anything, even this kind of a celebration. But look, it's great to be here to help celebrate Medicare's 20th birthday.
Medicare is Australians' universal guarantee of affordable access to high quality health care. Medicare is part of the Australian way of life. More than 80 per cent of Australians visit a doctor at least once a year. Over 10 per cent of Australians visit a doctor more than 20 times a year.
Medicare helps to fund 100 million general practitioner visits every year. It helps to fund 100 million specialist visits every year. So Medicare is part and parcel of the Australian way of life.
Now when Medicare started 20 years ago, there was a bit of controversy about it, but today Medicare is not only universally accepted by the Australian public, but it is an article of faith on both sides of politics.
The Howard Government is committed to protecting and strengthening Medicare. Just before Christmas, we announced Medicare Plus, a $2.4 billion investment in a stronger, better Medicare system.
It's appropriate that on the 20th birthday of Medicare, the new $5 bulk-billing incentive came into action. As of yesterday, doctors who bulk-bill their concession card and child patients get an extra $5 on the rebate.
I call on the Senate that to quickly pass the Medicare Plus safety net legislation, because this is the remaining missing link in Medicare, and that missing link should be put in place as soon as possible by the Senate. But I want to say that this is a government which will not rest in its attempts to improve Medicare.
We are always looking to further fine tune the system, and I announced today that as part of delivering better services to the Australian public, Medicare is trialling a Saturday opening for the next six months here in Brisbane, so from the last Saturday in February, Medicare offices - all 10 Medicare offices here in Brisbane will be open from nine till 12:30 every Saturday.
This is a service industry. Service industries don't close down at five o'clock on weekdays. This is all part of delivering ever-better services to the Australian public, and it is fully in keeping with the great tradition of Medicare that the Health Insurance Commission and Medicare should be working in this way.
So I have great pleasure in wishing Medicare happy 20th, and in confidently looking forward to the nearest thing to eternal life that is possible here in this veil of tears.
So ladies and gentlemen, happy 20th birthday to Medicare. I don't know what kind of voice we're in, but can we sing happy birthday to Medicare? What's your voice like, Jeff?
Michael, you've got a brilliant singing voice, haven't you? Well here goes.
[all singing 'Happy Birthday']
Three cheers to Medicare.