Friday, 16 May 2014

When a $7 dollar "co-payment" is more than beer and skittles

So, there is this:

My response to Mr Hockey is this:

$7 dollars isn't about cigarettes! It's 7 litres of supermarket milk; 2 loaves of bread; a sandwich for lunch; a 1kg block of supermarket cheese. It's food out of the mouths of children, pensioners, new mothers desperately trying to breastfeed their babies and needing those calories. 

Using a comparison to beer and cigarettes cheapens us all, as though that is the only measure we could understand. I can get a whole bottle of wine for $7, which would last me ages as I rarely drink. I could feed my family lunch for a fortnight in what my increased medical expenses may be for one visit (GP appointment, regular thyroid blood test, and prescription - possibly $20-30 extra). They wouldn't be exciting lunches either, just cheese sandwiches. That is what this government is taking away!

No parent is going to deny a sick child access to the doctor if they can actually afford to take them.  But what if that appointment is to help you address your own addiction to tobacco, seeking to cut down or quit. What if the help you need is to address your issue with alcohol. In the longer term, that appointment will be of benefit, but how do you afford it in the first place if your ADDICTION is the issue. Not a choice to buy cigarettes over taking your child to a doctor. Your addiction means that you need help to STOP spending $20-30 on a packet of cigarettes. And that help comes at a cost which may be prohibitive to those caught up in the addiction.

So Mr Hockey, you aren't being real. Comparing the $7 co-payment as you call it, to the cost of 2 middies (which makes no sense in much of the country, by the way - I have NO idea what sized drink that is, but then, I'm a Victorian so maybe I don't count!) is like comparing the cost of education to a holiday. They are chalk and cheese. It is elitist to do so, and suggests that you feel that all of Australia needs to compare costs to Pub beer prices to understand! Heavens, how very 1950s, when the thought was that men earned, women stayed at home, and a drop in to the pub for a beer was what a working man did on the way home. He held the cost, was in control of the "purse strings" and the "little woman" couldn't even enter the bar for fear of something clearly awful.

 It is 2014. Women work. Men work. Many families budget together. Cigarette smoking leads to nicotine addiction for many, and becomes an illness for which people self medicate by buying more smokes rather than a choice. Get with the program. Your cuts, your "co-payment" is a cost shifting exercise designed to reduce access to primary health services, and will hit the sick, the elderly, the very young, and the poor the hardest. That is your aim, and that will be the result. 

Oh, and it will work. I just hope that, as a nurse and a midwife, that you don't expect me to pick up the pieces for the next 30 years for your poor choice in government - but I fear that is exactly what you expect. And that you won't fund this either. 

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