Bill Shorten’s huge cancer care package is…

According to Shorten:

“Cancer is the greatest disease burden in Australia, and it carries the greatest out-of-pocket costs in our healthcare system”.

Source: Adelaide Now

Shorten is promising something which is already delivered:
On 9 April, 2GB reported that:

Cancer patients calling up the Chris Smith Show claimed that most of the costs were covered for them by Medicare already.

Source:, 9 April

Cancer treatment at public hospitals is 100% covered by Medicare, so when Shorten talks about ‘out of pocket’ expenses, he means private patients paying the gap fee. Yet in August 2018, before ‘Super Saturday’:

…the Labor party has promised that it will introduce a two-year 2 per cent premium cap and launch a Productivity Commission inquiry into the industry.

Source:, 23 March

The cap on Premiums would increase the out-of-pocket expenses because health funds are not charities.

Since then Catherine King announced a new ‘Health Reform Commission’, ignoring the study *already* *done* by the Productivity Commission.
Source:, 13 February

See also: “Labor ignores real reasons for rising health costs” – The Australian

In 2015, “The Productivity Commission came up with a paper titled Efficiency in Health in 2015 and observed there was considerable scope to improve Australia’s health system. It pointed out that reforms to efficiency would relieve some of the pressures associated with Australia’s ageing population and growing healthcare expenditure. The key conclusion was that more could be done to promote clinical and cost-effective care by improving health technology, clinical guidelines and peer review, removing incentives in the system to over-treat, and greater investment in preventive health. Source: The Australian.

These are the recommendations that King has ignored, instead King’s HRC would address ‘challenges’ which she described as:

“growing barriers to care” such as “high costs, long wait times and workforce shortages”, along with “persistent inequalities” of access to care in disadvantaged communities.

High costs are not addressed by alleviating “workforce shortages” but rather by improving health technology, reducing over-servicing and greater investment in preventive health, which is what the PC recommended and what King is choosing to ignore.

The inconvenient truth for King and Shorten with the PC recommendation to reduce over-servicing is that it implies a co-payment fee to discourage over-servicing and King/Shorten have argued against that in their cynical MediScare campaign. So now it is easier for King to create a new bureaucracy and ignore the Productivity commission than to admit she was wrong and lose face.

The problem for Shorten also, is that despite no funding from $7 co-payments, Tony Abbott went ahead with the Medical Future Fund ANYWAY. Now Shorten is promising a few million dollars when the Coalition has ALREADY ESTABLISHED a $20 BILLION Medical Research Future Fund.

Medical Research Future Fund: See MRFF

Shorten is like a chook scratching around for something to promise when the Coalition has already delivered.

According to Shorten:

In February, RACGP President, Harry Nespilon said:

“Let’s remember [the ALP] introduced the indexation freeze which has caused so much damage – so, if they are the party of Medicare, they’ve certainly got a terrible record”

Source:, 15 February

Leave a comment