MP slams Medicare closures
MEDICARE facilities in Keppel Sands and Mount Morgan are among those on a government hit list, the organisation has revealed.
Hundreds of access points in remote and regional communities will close in a move Member for Flynn Ken O’Dowd has described as an outrageous attack on the elderly and ill in rural Australia.
But Medicare says everything customers could do at a Medicare Australian Access Point booth can now be done from home, either on the telephone or online.
Hank Jongen, the general manager of human services, said customers didn’t need a special booth to claim Medicare rebates any more.
“Medicare’s 1300 360 460 tele-claiming service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the cost of a local call,” he said.
“Customers can speak directly to a real person who will help them with their claim or with other Medicare business.
“This means there are no paper forms to complete and rebates can be paid directly into customers’ bank accounts quickly.”
He said Medicare opened the access point booths more than 10 years ago in regional and remote areas so people could lodge claims – but use of them had slowed significantly because there were now more convenient ways for people to claim their rebates.
In a speech to federal parliament Mr O’Dowd said it was unacceptable to tell people in isolated areas that they either had to use the internet or travel to a larger town or city to conduct their business.
“What about our elderly residents and those with an illness or disability?” he said.
“Some people don’t have access to the internet and are not capable of travelling large distances to carry out such basic day-to-day functions.”
He said the government was out of touch with the needs of regional communities.