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Tuesday, 2 April 1957
Page: 386

Dr DONALD CAMERON (OXLEY, QUEENSLAND) - Under the hospital agreement with the States the Commonwealth last year provided about £8,000,000 for maintenance of hospitals in the States. There are also other arrangements for dealing with special types of hospitals. Under the tuberculosis agreement the Commonwealth provided for the States, for capital costs last year, about £1,750,000, and for maintenance, including not only hospital maintenance but also' the cost of surveys, another £4,000,000. Under an act which governs the provision of funds for mental hospitals the Commonwealth provided £750,000 in the last financial year to the States. It is not possible to be very precise about indirect assistance, but the mere fact that the Government subsidizes the hospital insurance scheme means that more finance is made available to hospitals than would otherwise be the case. Last year, the benefit organizations paid out for hospital insurance somewhere about £6,000,000, of which the Commonwealth contribution would be about £1,500,000. The great bulk of that sum must find its way into hospital finances because it represents payments to contributors who, in turn, have received hospital accounts.

There is another form of indirect assistance which cannot be assessed in precise terms. I refer to the pensioner medical scheme. Under it, the Commonwealth provides for pensioners extra pharmaceutical benefits, over and above the ordinary benefits, and last year the cost of this, and of the scheme itself, was about another £4,000,000. If the scheme were not in existence a great deal of the expense would have to be borne by the hospitals, because many of these people would be out-patients or, for that matter, in-patients at public hospitals.

Finally, the Commonwealth meets the cost of general pharmaceutical benefits supplied by public hospitals throughout Australia to their patients, and last year this amounted to £1,300,000. Thus, very considerable sums are paid out by this Government to assist hospitals throughout Australia to meet their expenses.

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