My submission to the Restore Our Rebates campaign
Government has no business interfering in our private healthcare choices
Your Health Your Choice is running a campaign called Restore Our Rebates, to reverse the Federal Liberal-National government’s 2019 ban on the ability of private health funds to offer rebates for 16 natural therapies to their members.
Yes, that’s right: a right-wing government saw fit to interfere with private businesses’ right to offer services that their customers wanted, and with people’s right to use the health insurance premiums that they were paying out of their own pockets to get rebates on services that they wanted to take advantage of.
With a Federal election just months away, Your Health Your Choice is urging Australians to contact their local MP to make their wishes known.
You can read all about the campaign here.
Following is the letter that I sent to my local MP through the campaign portal, to get your ideas flowing.
Dear Mr xxx
As a member of the LNP, I am assuming that you support the right of individuals to make decisions for themselves about how they live their lives without unwarranted interference by government, including choosing the type/s of healthcare they wish to utilise, for themselves and their families. As studies like this one have shown, 80% of Australians use some form of complementary medicines, and usage is higher in non-urban areas such as those that comprise your electorate. Yet the Federal government dealt a serious blow to Australians' right to choose how they take care of their health when, in April 2019, Health Minister Greg Hunt banned private health funds from offering rebates for 16 natural therapies.
Private health funds want to be able to offer these rebates, and customers of health funds want to receive them (and many have dropped their coverage since rebates were removed). Even many doctors recognise the vital role that natural therapies play in Australia's health care system, since treatment of chronic diseases - for which conventional medicine has little to offer, while natural therapies are ideally placed to address - account for the vast bulk of health care sector expenditure.
The ongoing COVID crisis highlights the sheer self-defeating idiocy of the Federal government's unwarranted interference in the free market. It has been clear since March 2020 that obesity, and deficiencies of vitamins A and D, zinc and other micronutrients play huge roles in individuals' susceptibility to developing serious illness from SARS-CoV-2 infection, and that these same nutrients are useful in early treatment, to keep people out of hospital (for example see here, here, and here). And yet, two years after the pandemic was declared, Australia still has no prevention or early treatment policy. Natural therapists are well-placed to assess the nutritional status of people who are susceptible to severe COVID-19, and to prescribe diet and lifestyle changes and complementary medicines to decrease that susceptibility.
I have managed several dozen clients (throughout Australia and overseas) who were diagnosed with COVID-19 with these supportive therapies, and not a single one has required any medical care. I am preventing my clients from becoming a financial burden on the publicly-funded health care system, and yet the government is blocking those clients from receiving rebates for seeing me, all the while imposing financial penalties on higher income individuals who do not have private health insurance. Unfortunately, due to the Federal government's policy, I am only able to help people who can afford to consult me without receiving any health insurance rebate. Is this the Australia that you want to live in - one in which the state, rather than individuals, decides what forms of health care people should receive, and interferes in the ability of private firms to provide the services that their customers want?
Instead of supporting Australians to seek preventative care from natural therapists who are trained in evidence-based complementary medicine, the government's policy has been to wait until people get seriously ill and then admit them to hospital, where they receive spectacularly expensive and ineffective treatments such as remdesivir, which is provisionally approved by the TGA for treatment of COVID-19 despite the World Health Organisation recommending against its use because "there is currently no evidence that remdesivir improves survival and other outcomes" (see here).
In short, the LNP's health policies - generally and with specific regard to COVID-19 - are an expensive disaster, and the interference with people's right to choose their own health care is a huge piece of that disaster.
With a Federal election looming and the tide of voter opinion turning against the LNP, in no small part because of its mismanagement of COVID-19 (rates of which, and deaths from, are now higher than at any point in the pandemic, despite 94% of the population being vaccinated - many involuntarily, through various forms of coercion), I urge you to press your fellow MPs to stop interfering in Australian's health care choices and allow private health funds to once again offer rebates for natural therapies.
The LNP claims to support the "freedom of citizens to choose their own way of living subject to the rights of others, the laws of the land and the protection of private property". Is this just empty talk, or are you prepared to stand by this guiding principle? As a newcomer to your electorate, I await your reply with interest. Rest assured, it will bear on my voting decisions in the upcoming election.
Well written as usual Robyn. Punishing people for making healthier choices is pretty indicative of the kind of society we are shaping in the 2020's. It seems the government wants us to live in a permanent dependance on pharmaceuticals as that's where all the big bucks are. Shame on them, and more power to you and other caring health professionals. Thank you for your wonderful efforts.
Excellent, Robyn. Let's see what the big medicine and big pharma quislings in Canberra do about it.