BTW, This Shitty ‘Pap Smear’ Budget Cut Actually Affects Fkn Everyone

By now you might have learned about the nonsensical cuts to healthcare that are happening midway through this year. Or more likely, you’ve seen one of your Facebook friends sign this petition:

If you’ve missed it (and we don’t blame you, because it was barely advertised), then get ready to hear some bullshit:

So, the Liberal Government are cutting $650 million from the health budget. (That’s a fuck-tonne of money, right? I’ve got $2.35 in my wallet – how about you?)

Well, they decided that as our #newyearnewyou 2016 present, they would very quietly and stealthily announce what they’re gonna cut from the healthcare system. While much of the campaign focus has been on pap smears (due to women being highly-affected by these changes), please note that this isn’t a specifically gendered issue. Say this with us: “THIS AFFECTS ME”. We’re serious; this affects absolutely everyone.

Some of the medical procedures that you are used to getting fo’ free or subsidised under Medicare, are no longer covered. So, the cost of these very essential services are comin’ straight out of your bank account. Some examples of what’s also no longer covered by Medicare are:

  • Blood tests 
  • Urine tests 
  • MRIs and other imaging services
  • STI testing (!!!)
  • + more

*looks at bank account*
*throws computer out window*

The petition to reverse this is gaining signatures like wildfire – when we spoke to co-creator Brigitte Garozzo last night, it had just hit 75,000. Today, it has well over 140,000 signatures.

spoke to Brigitte about why Emma Bacon, Georgia Tkachuk, and herself decided to create the petition: 

“Part of the reason why Australia is so great is our healthcare system. We’ve got Medicare and bulk-billing and free essential services. It could obviously be better, but you know, we’ve got a pretty good system – and it should stay that way.”
And who are the groups who will be affected the most by this decision?

“In our eyes, people from rural and regional areas will be significantly affected by this – they don’t have the option to go to another doctor if they’re being charged too much. Women will also be affected [on top of all the non gender-specific tests like blood/imaging, women will also be paying more money for pap smears and pregnancy tests], as will people with disabilities and chronic illnesses. Also, the queer community – statistically they have higher rates of STI testing, which is great! They shouldn’t be deterred from it.”
So, how much money are we looking at, exactly? Well, that’s kind of a grey area right now. Pathologists have said that the average cost of a pap smear is approximately $30 – so that’s the number that Brigitte’s petition is rolling with, as a guide. 
Despite the fact that multiple medical professionals have expressed serious concern over patients brunting the costs (and therefore being deterred from having the potentially life-saving procedures at all), Health Minister Sussan Ley has denied there will be any changes to the cost of these medical services. 

I’d like to reassure Australian women there are no changes proposed regarding the cost of either receiving or delivering…

Posted by Sussan Ley MP on Tuesday, 5 January 2016

But regardless, Brigitte says it’s the damn principle of the thing:

“Whether it’s $3 or $30, we think it should be fundamentally free. There’s something like $650 million being ripped out of healthcare. It bothers me that people are paying for essential services, but [the government] continue to subsidise mining companies…”
And let’s also think about the fact that less people will have these potentially life-saving procedures and tests done, due to financial stress. That means less people will discover illnesses that might affect them down the line, and will need expensive and painful treatments, many of which the government have to subsidise.
This is a serious concern of Dr Michael Harrison from the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (RCPA), who also said that the industry wasn’t even bloody consulted about the changes, and that pathologists wouldn’t be able to absorb the costs: “If people opt out of pathology testing because they are worried about how much it is going to cost, there will be a resurgence in late diagnosis of cancer, and there will be adverse outcomes.”
So weigh it up – why would you remove access to comparatively inexpensive tests now, only to have to subsidise more expensive ones later? The lack of sense is astonishing. Goddamn fucking astonishing.

If you’d like to make your voice heard and sign the petition, you can HERE: