Liberals demand ‘no gaps’ in interstate coverage for ambulance subscribers

The State Liberals today welcomed Health Minister Jack Snelling’s backdown on the withdrawal of interstate cover for SA Ambulance subscribers but demanded that the scheme continue to cover the cost of interstate ambulance services while the Government goes back to the drawing board.

The Weatherill Government’s unpopular changes to the scheme are due to take effect in less than 3 weeks and subscribers whose cover falls due after that date should not be disadvantaged by the Government’s blunder.

Earlier today, Minister Snelling admitted that the Labor Government had been shocked by the strength of community opposition to its decision to remove interstate coverage from Ambulance Cover subscriptions renewed or taken out after 30 May 2016.

Liberal Member for Mount Gambier, Troy Bell, said that “the decision shows that the Weatherill Labor Government is completely out of touch with the needs of the people of the South-East”. 

“I’m very keen to see the detail of the new proposal because my constituents should not be penalised simply because they live near the Victorian border,” said Mr Bell.

“It is not enough for the Minister to ask the SA Ambulance Service (SAAS) to develop alternative Ambulance Cover options – he must press the pause button on the changes that kick in at the end of this month,” said Shadow Health Minister Stephen Wade.

“This leaves more than a quarter of a million South Australians[1] in a precarious situation where they may not have ambulance coverage if they travel interstate for work, holidays, to attend a wedding.

“The Minister must immediately give a firm commitment that the existing subscription scheme will be maintained in full – including interstate coverage – until any new products are developed.

“The disastrous and insensitive way the proposed changes were quietly ‘announced’ by SAAS is clear evidence of an out-of-touch Health Minister surrounded by out-of-control health bureaucrats.”

[1] There were 287,667 subscribers to the SAAS Ambulance Cover scheme in FY2014/15. Source: SAAS Annual Report 2014-15, page38