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National Forum on Medicare and Public Health19 January 2004
The future of Medicare will be discussed at a special national forum being organised by the HSU and other unions during the ALP national conference next week.
Labor leader Mark Latham will be a special guest at the forum entitled, Medicare and the Public Health Challenge.
It will take place between 8am and 9am on Friday January 30 at the Novotel Century Hotel at Darling Harbour in Sydney.
HSU national secretary Craig Thomson said the forum would take place only two days before the 20th anniversary of the introduction of Medicare on February 1,1984.
"It is a fitting time to look at how the Medicare system is operating and what needs to be done to improve the public health system in Australia," he said.
"Unfortunately there are serious problems in the health system that need to be addressed.
"Bulk billing rates have been falling steadily since the Howard Government was elected. At the same time average fees for GP visits are going up and after-hours services are reducing.
"HSU members working in public hospitals and as ambulance officers report that demand for services has been increasing from people who cannot afford to see a GP or who cannot find one in time to help them.
"There needs to be much better cooperation between the state and federal governments to improve health services for the whole community.
"We are looking forward to hearing from Mr Latham and Labor's health spokeswoman Julia Gillard on Labor's plans for improving health services and restoring Medicare."
"A special 20th birthday Medicare cake will be cut at the end of the program."
All HSU members are invited to attend the forum and can contact the national office for more information.
The forum is being organised in conjunction with other unions who have healthworkers as members, the ANF and the LHMU.