By Chief Advocate Ian Henschke
As we head into the 2019 federal budget next month and election the month after, it’s a good time to look at a couple of big policy wins for National Seniors Australia.
The advocacy strategy approved by our Board and National Council in November 2017 was based on our survey of more than 6,000 members. I thank you, again, for taking part.
It gave us a wealth of information. You told us your number one concern was health: rising costs and, in particular, spiralling private health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs charged by specialists.
So, on your behalf we’ve been campaigning to freeze private health premiums. We’ve lobbied all sides of politics and worked with other groups to make this happen. The fee rise of 3.25% approved by the federal government, effective from 1 April 2019, will be the lowest in 18 years. At the same time Labor has made an election promise to freeze premiums for the first two years it’s in office.
We’ve also have been campaigning to reign in out-of-pocket costs. One member told us she had been charged $850 out-of-pockets simply for an initial consultation with a specialist.
We’ve got a campaign website where you can join the fight and share your story like that member did. It’s these individual stories that are so powerful. I use them when I talk to the media.
Last week when we launched the campaign formally we generated extensive media coverage and at the weekend, we had some great news.
I opened the paper on Saturday to see the government had announced it was tackling the problem by doing what we’d been calling for.
You can read about it here.
You can also read more about our National Seniors campaign and join up by clicking here.
We will keep the pressure on to make sure the health reforms continue. We’ve won part of the battle and, with your help, we can win the war against spiralling health costs.
Please talk to your friends and family about joining up to our campaigns and becoming members. This is a crucial time.
The budget is due on 2 April and I’ll be in Canberra to cover it for you. The election will be the second or third Saturday in May. I urge you to become involved and push your local candidates to consider the issues relevant to seniors.
We will launch our election priorities shortly. In the meantime, here are our budget priorities for 2019.
Onwards and upwards.