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Notice given 16 March 2006

*1623  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health and Ageing—

(1) Is the Minister aware that an alternative exists for the conventional Pap smear, that is the Thin Prep Pap Test.

(2) What information is the Minister aware of on the comparative effectiveness of the two methods for detecting cervical abnormalities.

(3) What information is the Minister aware of on the clinical benefits of the Thin Prep Pap Test, such as increased disease detection, reduction of equivocal diagnoses and the ability to perform additional tests on the same vial, for example HPV, Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea.

(4) Does the Minister have any data on levels of community awareness of this alternative to the conventional Pap smear. 

(5) What is the average financial out of pocket cost for a conventional Pap smear in comparison to the Thin Prep Pap Test.

(6) What funding is the Government providing to assist women with access to this alternative Pap test.

*1624  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health and Ageing—With reference to the Minister’s comments reported in the Australian Financial Review of 2 March 2006, that ‘conscious of the fact that the legislation governing private health insurance was last revised in a period where the parliamentary majority was not especially sympathetic to the concept of private health’: does this indicate an intention to reintroduce legislative changes that would allow private health insurance cover for out of pocket expenses associated with Medicare-rebated consultation; if not, to what was the Minister referring.

*1625  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health and Ageing—Is the Government considering introducing a fee for each prescription that is dispensed for concessional patients once they reach the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme safety net threshold; if so, what is the fee proposed.