The Medical Scientists Association of Victoria (MSAV) is extremely alarmed that the Turnbull Government is attacking health care to fix the economy.

In particular the Union is very concerned that health care standards for Australians will be significantly damaged by removing bulk-billing incentives for pathology, a clinical service used by General Practitioners for diagnosis and treatment. And by changing the bulk-billing arrangements for diagnostic imaging services and Magnetic Resonance Imaging services, the Turnbull Government is making these vital health services too expensive.

The Union fears these changes will see revenue reductions for pathology companies and ultimately much less competition in private pathology. And with the two largest private pathology providers in Australia experiencing drops in their share price, the Union is also very concerned that private pathology companies will take the unconscionable option and slash workforce terms and conditions to absorb revenue reductions to maintain current profit levels.

The Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) can only be described as a disaster for Australia’s universal healthcare system.

The changes announced by the Turnbull Government illustrates that they have little regard for the future healthcare of Australians.

Removing bulk-billing incentives for pathology tests will make it more expensive for people to get the tests they need done. Healthcare standards will decline leading inevitably to adverse health outcomes for many patients.

These changes will heavily impact patients, and will heavily impact on private pathology providers who rely on referrals from GPs and medical practitioners and could lead to much less competition, despite Minister Ley’s dubious comments about there being enough competition in the sector.

Private pathology companies have a history of attacking workforce terms and conditions to protect profits. Dorevitch Pathology, for example, has refused to negotiate wage increases for the entire scientific workforce for the past 8.5 years. This decision will see pathology companies harden their attitudes against negotiating fair and reasonable conditions.

Healthcare standards under the Turnbull Government will ultimately decline and the lost productivity as Australians become more unwell will have devastating impacts on the nation’s budget. This is a short sighted gain for what will end up being long term pain.

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