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Wednesday, 3 December 2003
Page: 23700

Miss JACKIE KELLY (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister) (9:49 AM) —I would like to speak today on health issues, including MRI at Nepean Hospital, which is funded by the federal government. All the MRI scans done there are funded under the Medicare system and paid for by the federal government. It is interesting to note that today those MRI costs are in the region of $500 or $600 a scan. Compare this with the old X-ray—a poorer diagnostic tool—the cost of which was about $80 an X-ray. At the moment, I am working with the Nepean Hospital on the provision of a PET scanner, which is a further diagnostic tool. It costs something like $1 million to install and $1 million to run. Costs under the PET scanner are averaging around $1,000 a scan. This is just diagnostics; we have not even got to the cure. The cure will come through the PBS and the doctors, specialists and nurses who operate on those who are diagnosed as having something wrong with them, in conjunction with the equipment provided by the health industry, such as the cochlear implant and various other advances that Australian research is coming up with, but it all comes at a price.

Health care is incredibly expensive and the future of it is even more expensive. The main concern of people in my area is to cap these expenses. I think that that is why the MedicarePlus package is so interesting to them. They are looking for a cap on these burgeoning health costs, and this package does deliver that. For those on a concession card or on family tax benefit part A, their costs are capped at a very reasonable level. If they are in private health insurance, we have underpinned the 30 per cent rebate, which is not guaranteed under any other government but the John Howard-John Anderson government. As a government we are still looking at ways of closing that gap and capping costs for those with private health insurance.

These are critical issues for the future of health care in our nation, and they are issues that this government are doing the hard yards in addressing. We have gone out there and listened to doctors' concerns. We have looked at the money in the budget, we have looked at people's concerns and we are trying to come up with a package that is fair to all Australians. But we are simply blocked by the opposition parties in the other place and in the House, which is not doing any good for anyone in Australia and, most importantly, to the people in my electorate. (Time expired)