Removal of medicare access points

By Dominic Geiger

The recent Federal Government decision to begin removing all 840 remote Medicare Australia Access Points (MAAPs) has prompted condemnation from various Lachlan Shire health and political representatives.
Medicare Australia Access Points (MAAPs) allow access to basic claiming for regional and remote communities and are currently located within the Lachlan Shire at Shortis and Timmins Pharmacy in Condobolin and the Rural Transaction Centre (RTC) in Lake Cargelligo.
Hank Jongen, Human Services Portfolio General Manager, confirmed late last week that the Lake Cargelligo MAAP would be closed within the month with the Condobolin MAAP set to follow “sometime before 2013.”
“On average, the Lake Cargelligo community have made less than one call per day from their booth over the last 21 months,” he said.
“Electronic, internet and phone claiming options are making MAAP booths redundant.
“Customers now do not… have to leave their homes to claim their Medicare rebates.
Condobolin Pharmacist, Michael Timmins, said he felt the removal of the MAAPs would severely disadvantage those in the community who weren’t IT literate.
“This is not a satisfactory situation for the elderly or for those who are not familiar with using computers and the internet,” he said.
“Those who are in my age bracket of 60 plus will struggle with the changes.
“Our MAAP has quite a bit of usage and we’ll be holding onto it for as long as possible.”
Mark Coulton, Federal MP for Parkes, called the removal of the MAAPs a “reckless decision.”
“Medicare Australia has failed to consult with the public on this matter, and has failed to provide a viable alternative for people in these communities to claim,” he said.
“They are forcing people to use their services online, which for many elderly people is impossible.
“Not only can they not afford internet services with the skyrocketing cost of living, many do not have the skills to navigate to the website.
“The affects the closure of these booths will have not only on the individuals who use the booth, but also the places these booths are located such as the local rural transaction centres.”

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