VISITING the Port Stephens area last week, Shadow Minister for Health Ms Catherine King MP visited a number of health facilities in the Paterson electorate.
During her day’s visit, Ms King visited the Raymond Terrace HealthOne ‘community health super clinic’ style facility.
Accompanied by Ms Meryl Swanson, Member for Paterson, she met with GPs, nurses, dentists, and patients.
They also met with a cardiologist and a mental health expert to gauge the medical needs of the local community.
After the controversial Medicare issues raised throughout the 2016 Federal election campaign with a specific focus on accusations and denials of de-funding, health has firmly been on the agenda and remains a concern for members of the community.
News Of The Area met with Ms King to discuss the issues impacting Port Stephens residents.
A recurring issue for Medowie residents is that there is no dedicated bulk billing facility for GP visits.
This issue was raised in the meeting, and Ms King said, “The ALP is currently developing policy and I am taking the opportunity to speak with GPs and specialists.”
The recent Federal budget resulted in the freeze on Medicare contributions only being slightly alleviated.
“Bulk Billing rates have declined and the freeze won’t be fully lifted until 2020, doing damage to our system,” Ms King said.
“There is $2.2Billion in patient rebates over the next four years that is being cut.”
“If the government thinks that’s standing up for patients, I think they certainly have their priorities wrong.”
“We’ve been fighting cuts to Medicare every day and taking the fight to government.”
Ms Swanson told News Of The Area, “There needs to be more access to quality care that is bulk billed.”
The interview also covered issues of telehealth and the roll out of NBN.
Ms Swanson said, “We’ve been able to develop a relationship with Telstra.”
“They have agreed to put a top hat in, and, in turn those people who had no internet do now.”
“We are lobbying all the time for better internet access.”
By Heather SHARP