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Monday, 3 November 2003
Page: 21722


Ms O'BYRNE (1:45 PM) —Last week the Senate Select Committee on Medicare delivered their inquiry report and put forward their proposals to address the crisis in health care. These bright sparks came up with a plan to increase the private health insurance rebate to 40 per cent a proposal that, despite being hosed down very quickly by the government, once again shows just how out of touch many government members and senators are with what the public actually want in their public health care system. It is no wonder the Treasurer put a very quick stop to this bright little idea because an increase to the private health insurance rebate would cost $800 million. So how could we actually use $800 million effectively? Eight hundred million dollars would be a boost to the public health system struggling under this government's cuts, cuts that have cost the Tasmanian public health care system $40 million over five years and the national health care budget a billion dollars over five years. Eight hundred million dollars could be used to fund the Commonwealth Dental Health Scheme, cut by this government, for another eight years. It is time this government faced up to the reality about public health care and started looking at realistic strategies to save the best health care system this country has ever had—Medicare.