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Monday, 27 September 1999
Page: 8949

Senator HERRON (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs) (6:06 PM) —The transition arrangements in the bill will benefit those who have hospital cover when the new Lifetime Health Cover scheme comes into effect on 1 July 2000. On that date, existing members will be treated for the purposes of Lifetime Health Cover as if they have had private hospital cover since they were 30 years old. For people who do not have private health insurance hospital cover, there is a period of grace beginning on 1 July 1999 and ending on 30 June 2000. During this period, people who do not have hospital cover can join a fund and be treated in the same way as existing members when the Lifetime Health Cover scheme comes into effect on 1 July 2000.

To ensure that these transition arrangements fully support the intention of the Lifetime Health Cover scheme by providing incentives for people to take out hospital cover early in life and maintain their cover, the government is proposing a number of amendments. These amendments provide that people taking out private hospital cover during the grace period will not lock in the right to pay the same premiums as a 30-year-old member until they have paid contributions for a minimum period beginning on 1 July 2000 and ending on 1 July 2001.

Senator Chris Evans —Can I just query what amendment the minister is moving here, Mr Temporary Chairman.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN —It is item 11, government amendment No. 4—

Senator Chris Evans —The amendment that reads `minimum membership period after 1 July 2000'?

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN —which the minister is yet to move.

Senator HERRON —I move government amendment No. 4:

(4) Schedule 1, item 11, page 9 (after line 28), after subclause (1), insert:

(1A) The Minister must determine that a person is to be treated, for the purposes of this Schedule, as having had hospital cover on 30 June 1999 if:

(a) the person applies to the Minister, in accordance with subclause (2), for the determination; and

(b) the Minister is satisfied that one or more of the circumstances specified in the regulations apply to the person.