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Thursday, 19 March 1987
Page: 1133

Mr PORTER —Following the release of confidential Medicare information on doctors' incomes to the Sydney Morning Herald in 1985, did the Minister for Health subsequently claim in a letter to the national co-secretary of the Australian Society of Orthopaedic Surgeons in February 1986 that, with the assistance of computer security devices, access to confidential Medicare data was strictly controlled and limited to only 20 officers? Does the Minister still maintain that that is actually the case?

Dr BLEWETT —In response to the honourable member's question, let me say that I am totally convinced of the security and the limitations to officers of information from the Medicare computer system. As far as can be determined, in the particular case mentioned the leakage appears, on the evidence that we have, more likely to have come from the Department of Health than the Health Insurance Commission, given the form that was used by the Sydney Morning Herald. So there is no evidence whatsoever that that material came directly from the HIC computer system. As honourable members will remember, at that period the HIC was required to report material to the Department which was responsible for fraud and overservicing provisions. Indeed, one of the reasons that at a later stage we-I think rightly-put all of that responsibility with the HIC was that there was no longer this need for the transfer of data from the HIC to the Department. So it was a further effort to ensure the security of the system.