Television interview interview with Minister Butler and Sarah Abo, Today - 10 May 2024

Read Minister Butler's interview with Sarah Abo on historic Medicare changes for women battling endometriosis.

The Hon Mark Butler MP
Minister for Health and Aged Care

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SARAH ABO, HOST: There's a major boost this morning for the 1 million Australian women suffering with endometriosis, with the government spending $49 million to cover specialist consultations under Medicare. Let's bring in Health Minister Mark Butler now from Adelaide. Minister, good to see you, 1 in 9 Australian women suffers from endometriosis this investment will be a big help to them. 
MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND AGED CARE, MARK BUTLER: And too many of them have had to suffer in silence because frankly, Medicare hasn't been giving them the support that they need. If I go to a cardiologist to see them about my heart condition, for example, Medicare would pay me twice as much as a woman receives to see her gynaecologist. I mean, that's obviously just not right. But it also has meant that so many women have been suffering in silence, or putting up with short consults that barely scratch the surface of their condition, or paying huge out of pocket costs that I wouldn't have to pay to see a cardiologist. So, we're going to fix this historical gender pay gap and double the amount that Medicare pays a woman to see her gynaecologist. 
ABO: Yeah, it's very welcome indeed, Minister. That's for sure. It will add, 430,000 more services to Medicare and make consultations longer. We know, obviously, that the clinics around the country are under the pump at the moment. Will they be able to handle these changes and with the Budget next week, can we expect more of a cash boost for Medicare, I guess, to ease this situation as well as others? 
BUTLER: You're right to say that we've opened 22 specialist endometriosis and pelvic pain clinics over the past 12 months or so. I'll be visiting one of them in Adelaide today. They don't have to sort of do all of this work what we're doing really is doubling the Medicare fee for gynaecologists right across the country, wherever they're working in private practice or in one of these pelvic pain clinics. We know that this is such an issue for hundreds and hundreds of thousands of women, and those women have started to talk out really loudly over the past few years to say, look, enough is enough, we expect this historical discrimination - and it really is that in the Medicare system - to be fixed. 
ABO: Will Medicare get a bit of a tick off from the Treasurer next week? 

BUTLER: I'm not in a position to outline what's going to be in the Budget, but we have no stronger focus in our government than strengthening Medicare. As you know, Sarah, I've talked to you about it on many occasions, and this is just another example of that. 
ABO: Absolutely, alright. Thank you so much for joining us, Minister. Appreciate it. 


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