The Federal Government’s Medicare changes are under attack today from union and community groups opposed to a two-tier health system.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow called on all Senators to maintain their opposition to the Government’s changes despite compromise talks proposed by Health Minister Tony Abbott.

“There is a clear choice between a health system for everyone or Tony Abbott’s two-tier system which would force people to pay more,” Ms Burrow said.

Representatives of the Save Medicare Alliance will gather outside Federal Parliament House today to discuss the Report of the Senate Select Committee into the Medicare changes released last week.

Ms Burrow said that the Government should scrap its plans after the Senate Committee’s Report confirmed overwhelming public opposition to the proposals.

The report estimated that if the government’s Medicare package was implemented, bulk-billing levels would fall to 50% of all GP services and out-of-pocket expenses would increase by 56%.

“Working families cannot afford higher health costs, which are already growing faster than any other group of prices,” Ms Burrow said.

Health costs increased by 7.2% in the 12 months to September compared to overall inflation of 2.6%, according to the latest ABS Consumer Price Index.

“Working people already pay for Medicare through their taxes and the Medicare levy. They should not have to pay again to visit a doctor or for private health insurance.

“Australia can afford a decent public health system. The federal budget surplus of $7.5 billion revealed last month shows how much we need new budget priorities.”

Ms Burrow said that unions would continue lobbying all political parties to support and expand Medicare, improve bulk billing rates, protect the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, and oppose any co-payments or user-pays fees for public health services.