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Tuesday, 16 October 1984
Page: 1814

(Question No. 1135)

Senator Kilgariff asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 10 September 1984:

(1) Under current Medicare regulations are pilots undergoing mandatory medical examinations for renewal of their flying licences unable to claim the cost of the examination under Medicare, yet medical examinations for the renewal of driving licences are covered by the Medicare scheme.

(2) Will the Minister for Health take steps to review the situation in view of the facts that:

(a) medicals are mandatory under air navigation orders for the renewal of flying licences;

(b) they are more costly than a driving licence medical;

(c) renewal of private pilot's licences are required every two years.

and allow the cost of medicals for pilots' licences to be covered by Medicare.

Senator Grimes —The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) It is correct that under the current Medicare arrangements pilots undergoing mandatory medical examinations for the renewal of their flying licences are unable to claim the cost of such examinations under Medicare. Such mandatory medical examinations are considered to be health screening services and, as such, are excluded by the Health Insurance Act from Medicare benefits. In the case of driving licences, an exemption was made in respect of persons aged 70 years and over and persons suffering from diabetes or epilepsy, where it is compulsory to undergo a medical examination as a prerequisite to obtaining or renewing a driving licence. This exemption was made on compassionate and humanitarian grounds and also as an indirect contribution towards further improving road safety.

(2) No. The Government considers that it is inappropriate for Medicare to bear the burden of health screening services. In the case of pilots, the need to obtain or renew a flying licence is dictated primarily by pecuniary or recreational interests. As such I cannot agree to make an exception to the health screening rule in the case of pilots.