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Monday, 26 March 2007
Page: 59


Senator COLBECK (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance and Administration) (4:19 PM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows—

HEALTH INSURANCE AMENDMENT (PROVIDER NUMBER REVIEW) BILL 2007

This Bill proposes an amendment to the Health Insurance Act 1973 (the Act) relating to the arrangements for reviewing the operation of sections 19AA, 3GA and 3GC of the Act, collectively known as the Medicare provider number legislation.

These amendments are the result of the widespread acceptance of the legislation since its introduction in 1996, and aim to change the frequency of the review from two to five years.

The Medicare provider number legislation contained within section 19AA of the Act was introduced in 1996.  At the time of its introduction it was considered a contentious move as it was perceived it could harm the future employment opportunities of junior doctors.

In 1999, a review of the legislation found that these concerns were misplaced, and that the legislation was working well.  In 2001, the Act was amended to require a biennial report on the operation of the legislation.

The 2003 and 2005 biennial reviews found that the legislation continued to be well accepted and was raising the quality of general practice services to the community.  There was also broad agreement that the operation of section 19AA of the Act had certainly not exacerbated any medical workforce shortages.

During the 2005 biennial review the frequency of the review process was questioned with a view to extending the period between reviews. 

The Bill proposes to retain the review process, but change the interval from two to five years, with the next review report to be tabled in Parliament no later than 31 December 2010.

Debate (on motion by Senator Colbeck) adjourned.