Australian Medical Association chief wanted to hear more from Ley

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The Liberal Party left the fertile ground for Labor’s scare campaign on Medicare privatisation, Australian Medical Association President Dr Michael Gannon. Dr Gannon stopped short of calling ‘Mediscare’ irresponsible, but said the ‘scare campaign’ was particularly effective.

‘The Liberal Party left the fertile ground for the scare campaign,’ he said.

‘People were worried about co-payments…out-of-pocket expenses for basic blood tests, x-rays, ultrasounds – they were worried about an increase in out-of-pocket expenses for pharmaceuticals.’

Dr Gannon also said he was disappointed that ‘we didn’t hear more’ from Health Minister Sussan Ley during the campaign, as she would have been the appropriate person to rebut Labor’s messages, such as those on Medicare.

‘It was very clear that Labor had put health and Medicare specifically at the centre of their campaign.’

‘I was surprised that there was no debate between (shadow Health Minister) Catherine King and Sussan Ley during the campaign – it would have added to the level of debate if we had heard more of her during the campaign,’ he said.

On whether the Coalition needs a new face in the health ministry to address the Liberal Party’s reputational problem around health policy, which Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull admitted earlier in the week, Dr Gannon said he doesn’t necessarily see that as the problem.

‘I’ve enjoyed my interactions with Minister Ley – she’s got some good ideas, she’s a good listener,’ he said.

Dr Gannon said he is happy to support the Coalition’s platform of trying to responsibly fund the system and bring the budget towards balance.

‘It’s really important that whatever measures they come up with, whatever efficiencies or saving they look for, that they are well targeted,’ he said.

‘We’re going to have to come up with different ways to fund the health system – what we can’t have is sacred cows that can’t be touched.

‘This is going to require mature debate and concessions from both sides of politics to come up with a health policy that’s purpose fit for ten, twenty years time.’

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