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Kate Ellis MP on the Turnbull Govt's plan to cut IVF funding: "Find your savings elsewhere."

 “Find your savings elsewhere.”

There are times in Parliament where you are sharply reminded of the most important role of a politician – representing the public. Giving a voice to Australian families – the men, women and children who are at the end of the decisions that politicians collectively make every day. For me, yesterday was one of these moments.

From the leftover pieces of last year’s disastrous Budget, this week the Turnbull Government introduced the Health Insurance Amendment (Safety Net) Bill 2015. The title might sound harmless, but as always, the devil is in the detail. The Government’s proposed changes to the Medicare safety net come with some nasty catches, and one of the nastiest consequences falls where you might least expect –  the thousands of Australians who will need to access reproductive technology to give them a child.

For families undergoing IVF treatment, the financial, personal and physical strain can be significant.

I have seen people close to me struggle with infertility and the immense emotion which comes with the realisation that having a baby simply won’t be the easy journey they hoped.

Watch Kate Ellis address the proposed changes in parliament:

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For many, this news comes with emotions not unlike those of grieving a significant loss. A loss of identity. A loss of control. A loss of the ability to conceive.

Relationships can be strained, and many people are left with an overwhelming sense of isolation and pressure as they navigate the endless IVF information, experts, doctors, decisions.

“For many, this news comes with emotions not unlike those of grieving a significant loss. A loss of identity. A loss of control. A loss of the ability to conceive.”

And all this before the financial considerations.

According to the Fertility Society of Australia, one in six couples in Australia and New Zealand suffer infertility. IVF private patients currently face out-of-pocket costs of $4,000 per cycle, and success rates vary dramatically, with many couples needing multiple cycles of IVF. At the same time, there will be many individuals for which IVF will not be successful. These families face the confronting conclusion that they may never conceive, but they are still left with the same bills to pay.

The Fertility Society of Australia found that the changes the Turnbull Government is seeking could see IVF costs rise to $10,000 to $15,000 per cycle, which would put an inordinate financial strain on many parents desperate to have children, while IVF clinics have warned some women could be forced to give up their chance of having a child, or opt for riskier multiple embryo implants.

Australians desperate to have a child shouldn’t be made to suffer by a Government which only sees health as a source of Budget cuts. Australians at their most vulnerable, raw and emotional, deserve better.

I was proud to stand up in Parliament and send a message to Malcolm Turnbull and the entire Government – find your savings elsewhere. 

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