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Tuesday, 13 March 1973
Page: 460

Mr STREET (CORANGAMITE, VICTORIA) - My question is directed to the Minister for Social Security. Considering the size of the recently announced increases in contributions to hospital and medical benefit funds and the impending rise in doctors' fees, can the Minister guarantee that a levy of 1.35 per cent on taxable income will be sufficient to finance the proposed health scheme? Will he confirm the Australian Labor Party's election undertaking that the maximum contribution for any family under the scheme will be limited to$1 35? Finally, will the recently announced increases in fund contributions enable the funds in Victoria to pay benefits to non-pensioner patients in nursing homes?

Mr HAYDEN (OXLEY, QUEENSLAND) (Minister for Social Security) - I can guarantee that a 1.35 per cent levy on taxable income will be the level at which contributions will be struck when our health insurance proposals are introduced. I will be making an announcement on that within a matter of several weeks at the most. The maximum level at which the levy will be struck in money terms will be defined when our report is published. I am sure that the honourable member appreciates that these matters are related to movements in average weekly earnings and to earnings generally. The third matter which was mentioned by the honourable member concerned the attraction of benefits for non-pensioner patients in nursing homes in Victoria. I point out that already there is more than adequate money available in hospital funds in Victoria to provide these benefits. The funds have $25m in free reserves, without considering contingent liabilities for which they have set aside additional money. Every other State outside Victoria has arranged for these benefits to be provided. I have had discussions on this matter by letter and also personally with Mr Rossiter, the Minister for Health in Victoria. I hope that these discussions bear benefit for the community. In the final result the decision to effect these benefits for non-pensioner patients in nursing homes rests exclusively with the Government of Victoria.

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