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Website row highlights bulk billing and other Medicare rollbacks

The following public letter by retiree and ‘grandpa’ Mark Rogers attracted widespread media attention on the grounds of government ham-fisted censorship attempt of a citizen and his website, previously obscure.

Besides the free-speech issue, it’s worth reading the substance of what Rogers has to say about the rollback in Medicare affecting all Australians.

He wrote:

I’m a retired computer software programmer and I’m being threatened with legal action by the Australian government.

[I’m] worried about what the government is doing to our health system. Cuts to pathology and diagnostic imaging that affect the most vulnerable. The freeze on the Medicare rebate pushing up costs for GPs and other health professionals, and reducing bulk billing as costs rise. Not to mention billions of dollars have been cut from grants to hospitals.

Then there’s the myths being propagated by our politicians – that Medicare is unsustainable, that Australia’s public health system is bloated and inefficient, and that charging people more to see their primary health professionals will save Australia money…[election fodder but not properly discussed].

And finally, there are the areas of healthcare that should receive more public attention. Like, why does our government underwrite health insurer’s profits through the private health rebate? And why is our government pursuing international treaties that would lead to higher prices for medicines and allow foreign investors to sue the Australian government in secret tribunals if the government enacts new public health laws?

I decided to build my ‘Save Medicare’ website… to expose the hidden war being waged on our Medicare, that is slowly corroding universality and access….as the current Australian government (and other Australian decision makers) are pursuing strategies to adopt a more privatised system.

Australia spends 9.5% of its GDP on healthcare. The Unites States of America spends 17.7% of its GDP on health care with poorer outcomes and not all the population are covered. The USA relies heavily on the private market for health care.

I received a letter from the office of the Australian government solicitor. The letter said that I am not allowed to use the word ‘Medicare’, or the Medicare green and gold on my website. It threatened court and “damages” for my efforts to prompt a public discussion about what the government is doing to Medicare.

This is a serious situation for me and my family – we own our own home and have some superannuation, but I can’t afford to fight the government myself. But imagine the precedent it would set if I were to back down. For example, imagine if an opponent of WestConnex couldn’t register a domain name referring to the very project that they’re opposing? That’s why I’ve decided to keep my website up, despite the legal threats – and continue to spread the truth about what this government is doing to Medicare.

…check out the website (www.savemedicare.org) and judge for yourself. If you think it isn’t [a threat to Medicare], raise your concerns with your local federal MP – because today it is me, but tomorrow it could be you.

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