Does Malcolm Turnbull have murder on his mind? Because it seems he is trying to impoverish and kill me.
It's not a long-standing vendetta, dating back to when he was head prefect and I was a year behind him at Sydney Grammar. We got on OK then.
Actually, it's nothing personal. Turnbull, like Liberals going back to Sir Robert Menzies, has it in for public healthcare.
They resent public spending on health, funded through taxes, because it diminishes the money their main backers can pocket in profits. Meanwhile, particular corporations in the "health business", especially drug companies and insurance providers, with huge clout, fight to make sure their profits continue to flow.
So Menzies campaigned in the late 1940s against Ben Chifley's Labor government not only to defend private banking but also to defend private healthcare. Liberals supported constitutional challenges against Labor's bank and health legislation. In 1960, Menzies, then prime minister, ended free medicines under Chifley's Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, which had survived the conservative High Court's ruling against the broader public health legislation.
Labor under Gough Whitlam legislated for universal public health insurance. Medibank, now called Medicare, was a second rate system, compared with either Chifley's model or the National Health Service in Britain. Under the NHS, people have experienced better and, as a proportion of gross domestic product, cheaper health services than we have in Australia.
But Medibank was a big improvement here and the vast majority of people embraced it. For anyone on a low or modest income, who is sick or may become ill, Medicare is a barrier against poverty, greater suffering and even death.
Like millions of others, I have benefited from Medicare and the PBS. I have multiple myeloma, a treatable but incurable blood cancer. I went through six months of chemotherapy and then, in April last year, an autologous blood stem cell transplant to set the disease back.
There have been major advances in treatment for myeloma over the past two decades. New drugs have been developed, although an older one with a bad reputation for causing birth defects when women used it to stem morning sickness, Thalidomide, was effective in suppressing the cancer in my bone marrow.
An amazing little centrifuge filtered out my blood stem cells as my vital fluid was channelled through it and back into me. Later, my bone marrow and hence immune system was killed off, in order to eradicate the cancer too, by a massive dose of a targeted poison. Then the blood stem cells that had been saved were poured back into me.
The standard of care in Canberra Hospital was generally very high. Deficiencies can be traced back directly to underfunding and one of its main consequences: nurses, doctors and other staff who are overworked.
The treatment process was extremely unpleasant. And I still have not recovered fully from it. But it will, hopefully, give me more years of life with a decent quality.
I must still have monthly intravenous doses of a drug to maintain my bones and, on average, about four pathology tests a month.
The treatments I have been through don't come cheap. In the United States, which is the health delivery model for the Liberals, they would have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
That wouldn't be a problem for someone like Turnbull or the rest of the tiny, wealthy and very powerful layer of society whose interests, as investors, governments generally promote.
But for the rest of us, Medicare and the PBS, funded through the tax system, is crucial. The end of bulk billing for diagnostic services alone will discourage people from having blood or urine tests, pap smears, x-rays, MRIs and other services that are important for their health.
In Australia, the latest drugs to treat myeloma and many other illnesses are unaffordable for most of us. There are two reasons. The PBS is starved of funds. And the Australian government "respects the right" of pharmaceutical corporations to make tremendous profits through huge monopoly prices.
In 1976, that other Malcolm, the very wealthy Liberal prime minister Malcolm Fraser, moved to undermine Medibank soon after taking office. Even though it had only been operating for a few months, Medicare was very popular.
In response to Fraser's attack, there was a strike in Wollongong, a ban by postal workers on literature justifying the government's position, a 24-hour general strike across Victoria and then a very solid national one-day strike. Thanks largely to the efforts of the then ACTU president, Bob Hawke, the campaign petered out and it became possible to opt out of Medibank by taking out private insurance.
Last year, public outrage prompted the Senate to block then prime minister Tony Abbott's attempt to make visits to the doctor more expensive. Hospitals are being starved of funds.
Rallies and union action can also stop the Liberals' latest assault on our health, in the form of Turnbull's pathology charges and moves to privatise parts of Medibank's administration.
Rick Kuhn is an honorary associate professor in sociology at the Australian National University.