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Access card begins to look too much like the sneaky card

06 March, 2007

The AMA’s submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration Inquiry into the Access Card legislation reiterates the AMA’s concerns around privacy and the age of eligibility for people to obtain the Card.

AMA President, Dr Mukesh Haikerwal, said the legislation includes a significant change in government policy that takes away the existing rights of young people to access health care independently.

“The Government’s failure to amend the Bill to reflect its stated intention to make the card available to people aged 15 and over is disingenuous,” Dr Haikerwal said.

“There is a big question mark over why the Government is reluctant to make the Access Card as readily accessible to young people as the Medicare Card.

“The Government’s opportunism has turned the Access Card into a Sneaky Card.

“People will remain unenthusiastic and suspicious about the Card because of fears it could be used for purposes other than those specified in the Bill.

“The Government’s belated guidelines setting out an exemption from the age criterion for persons 15 years and older are not good enough while the age barrier of 18 remains enshrined in the legislation.

“The ability for young Australians to independently seek health care remains under threat for as long as those guidelines are the only Government guarantee of access.

“Those guidelines can be changed or withdrawn by the Government at any time and for any purpose.

“Legislating that people 15 and over can have the Access Card is the only way to remove suspicion about the Government’s motives,” Dr Haikerwal said.