Today is World Diabetes Day and Labor’s Spokesperson for Regional Health, Stephen Jones is calling on the Abbott Government to re-think its ill-conceived GP Tax that will slug local patients an additional $13.4 million per year and deter thousands with chronic diseases like diabetes from seeking treatment.
“The Illawarra is ground zero for diabetes. The incidence of diabetes is about 5.6 per cent of the population nationally. In our region it is close to 6.5 per cent, almost one percentage point above the national average”, said Jones.
“This is likely a conservative figure, as the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study reveals that while 1.7 million Australians have diabetes, up to half of the cases of type 2 diabetes remain undiagnosed.
“This is part of the reason bulk-billing rates in the Illawarra are at historically high levels, increasing over the last five years, to 91.7 per cent.”
Local GPs understand that patients in the region with chronic diseases like diabetes require bulk-billing in order to have access to basic preventative health care and avoid the most expensive part of the health system – the public hospital system.
The Abbott Government’s GP Tax and hike to prescription medicines will slug local patients with $94 million over the next four years.
“The last thing we should do with diabetes patients is discourage them from seeing a doctor. Avoiding treatment will mean many end up facing the most dangerous consequences of the disease including blindness, loss of limbs and end-stage kidney disease”, said Jones.
“A disproportionate number of Illawarra diabetes patients are already suffering – they are the ones who can least afford this Government’s reckless tax.
I’m calling on Tony Abbott must dump the GP Tax as a matter of urgency.”