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Thursday, 25 March 1999
Page: 3250

Senator LEES (11:08 AM) —Effectively, if we do not support this amendment we will generally see only private patients using these new facilities. Those who are public patients will be staying in hospitals—continuing, I presume, to use day surgery facilities as they have made those choices—but I think it is most unfair that the minister should again look at the whole issue of cost shifting and blame it back on federal-state relations, saying, `We have to do this because the states might push some more people out of the hospital system.' It is an unfortunate fact that in this country we have a major problem with the way our health system is structured and funded and that there is so much buck-passing and cost-shifting between state and federal governments, but I do not think we can let it get in the way of this.

If necessary, in the future there may need to be some renegotiation between state and federal governments if these new facilities are so overwhelmingly successful that there is a financial cost to the Commonwealth because the states are pushing people out of hospitals, but let us do the right thing in the first place and make sure that public and private patients get fair treatment, and then if we need to get back into the state and federal battles we can do that at a later time. The Democrats will be supporting this amendment.