17 September 2020

Greg Hunt must act urgently to prevent dual crises that are due to hit Australians health in two weeks.

Medicare telehealth rebates have been a crucial component of Australias COVID-19 response, but are scheduled to expire on 1 October.

On the very same day, Australians will be whacked with yet another increase in private health insurance premiums.

For months, Labor and experts have been calling for Greg Hunt to defuse these ticking time bombs.

But with just two weeks to go, the Government has so far reverted to its tradition of cuts and neglect in health.

Labor called for the introduction of Medicare telehealth rebates early in this health emergency.

To date, they have allowed Australians to access crucial care from home reducing COVID-19 risks for patients and health care workers alike.

Labor knows the pandemic is far from over, and supports calls from across the health sector for the items to be extended from 1 October.

Labor has also consistently called for Greg Hunt to reconsider the 2.92 per cent private health insurance premium hike that is due on the same day.

With premiums already up 30 per cent under this Government and many Australians struggling to make ends meet, hospital coverage is now at the lowest level in 14 years.

The Private Health Insurance Act gives the Minister for Health the power to reject premium increases that would be contrary to the public interest.

The Minister must now explain why another increase in October would be in the public interest or cancel that increase altogether.

With just two weeks to go, its past time for Greg Hunt to address these twin threats.