Independent Research indicates Liberal’s cuts to Medicare Pathology Bulk Billing Incentive Rates may be bigger than Health Minister is letting on: Lambie

JLN Independent Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie has called on Liberal Minister Sussan Ley to disclose all Health Department figures relating to the Government’s proposed MEYFO cuts to Medicare Pathology Bulk Billing incentive rates.

Senator Lambie’s call comes after she received an independent Parliamentary Library report on the matter and then interviewed Tasmanian medical scientist Richard Hanlon who is practice manager of one of the State’s biggest pathology testing businesses.

Click below to view Senator Lambie’s interview with Tasmanian Medical Scientist Richard Hanlon the Practice Manager of Sonic Health Care.



“The Parliamentary Library study I commissioned (See here) clearly describes what bulk billing incentive payments will be affected by the Liberal’s cuts to Medicare.  In addition to the Health Minister’s announced cuts of $1.40 to $3.40 to tests like women’s pap smears – the independent study states:

“A bulk billing incentive payment of $6.00 is currently payable to pathology providers who bulk bill certain patients, specifically, children and concession card holders.  A higher payment of $9.10 is available if the provider who delivers the service to the child or concession card holder is located in a designated outer metropolitan or rural area, or in Tasmania.” And

“The Government will achieve savings of $650.4 million over four years from 2015-16 by removing bulk billing incentives for pathology services….” “So it’s now up to Minister Ley to be honest with the people of Australia.  She, not a spokesperson – must answer how much will cancer checks for Tasmanian women really cost after the Liberal’s have their way and remove $650.4M from Australia’s Medicare system?

As indicated in the Library research, will the Liberal’s cuts to Medicare hit Tasmania, regional and rural Australia harder by removing a $9.10 bulk billing incentive payment? ” said Senator Lambie.

“When respected Health Professionals like scientist Richard Hanlon warn that - the effect on patients will be quite significant because it:

  • would dis-encourage them to go to their doctors…
  • patients may pay up to $30 co-payment…
  • has the potential to stop patients from testing for chronic diseases like diabetes, like testing for cancers, like testing for Pap Smears…
  • We’ve had a focus on primary health care for 10 years or more – and now we’re removing that… so hospitals will become inundated… cancers will not be seen until it’s too late...diabetes will not be seen until it’s too late.
  • … will have a huge cost to the health system and a huge cost to the hospital system in particular. 
  • … we’ve got about efficient as we can get… we believe there’s very little fat to cut off the bone.   

It’s time for the Turnbull Government to stop the attack on Medicare and trying to mess with our Bulk Billing rates.  Any fool can see that reducing Australia’s investment in primary healthcare is going to cost us more in the long run.

By forcing Medicare changes which are guaranteed to increase public medical expenses over the forward estimates – not to mention the increased horrific human costs, because of unnecessary loss of lives - Minister Ley is behaving recklessly and dangerously. ” said Senator Lambie.


Liberal’s Cuts to Medicare can be disallowed by the Senate.

 “The good news highlighted in the Library study is that researchers state when I asked the question:

Can these cuts be disallowed by the Senate?

Yes. The relevant regulations are a disallowable legislative instrument.  The process for disallowance is explained in this Senate brief.  Broadly, once the regulations are registered and tabled in Parliament a Senator has 15 sitting days to give notice of a motion to disallow the instrument (in whole or in part).

So I can make this promise to Tasmanians – I will use my vote to disallow any Liberal Government regulation, which attacks our Medicare Bulk Billing system.  I look forward to working with fellow crossbench Senators, the Greens, and Labor to stop this insane attack on one of the world’s best universal health care systems,” said Senator Lambie.

“And I renew my pledge to do whatever it takes in the Australian Senate – including voting against all Liberal/National Government Legislation – to stop Malcolm Turnbull and his incompetent Health Minister Sussan Ley from increasing the cost for Australian women to access vital Cancer health checks,” said Senator Lambie.