Labor has again been caught out on health policy in the election campaign.
Today’s announcement from Mr Albanese on Telehealth ignores the medical advice and risks rural health services.
It comes after the Government’s reforms led to record Telehealth psychiatric consultations in January and February this year – up 33% prior to the Government’s reforms.
Telehealth services are going up due the permanent changes that the Morrison Government has implemented.
And that is a 932 per cent increase from 2019.
The fact is the original measure was outdated and had only been introduced a decade ago to support the set up of telehealth prior to the major reforms and expansion by the Morrison Government.
Mr Albanese’s proposal goes against the express advice of the independent expert MBS review taskforce, a process Labor has previously supported, recommending the update to ensure Medicare is delivering the most up-to-date health care.
Labor’s Health spokesperson Mark Butler also claimed on social media that this item was in some way related to bulk billing, it is not.
Unfortunately, Labor is now showing a concerning pattern that it will not support independent medical advice.
It went against the medical advice and process on newborn screening. It has gone against the express recommendation of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety on nursing, risking a major nursing shortage in Australia and New Zealand.
Since 2012–13, the Coalition Government’s investment through the health portfolio in mental health and suicide prevention has more than doubled, growing from $3.3 billion to an estimated $6.8 billion in the 2022–23 Budget.
This is in stark contrast to Mr Albanese’s time in Cabinet, where Labor cut funding for mental health.
In the 2011-12 Budget, Labor announced a $580 million cut to Medicare subsidised mental health services, including a reduction in the number of Medicare sessions available under Better Access from 18 to 10 per year and a reduction in Medicare rebate for preparation of mental health treatment plans by GPs.
The Coalition reversed the reduction in the number of Medicare-subsidised sessions, doubling them from 10 to 20 per year.
Labor continues to prove it cannot be trusted with Australia’s health.