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Wednesday, 3 November 1976
Page: 2321

Mr SCHOLES (Corio) - I wish to raise a matter which is of some concern to me and which I would like the Minister for Health (Mr Hunt) to look into. It relates to a practice of conducting a series of medical tests in shopping centres. In Victoria, an organisation called Heartbeat has been doing this in a number of places. Recently, such tests were set up in the Corio shopping village in my electorate. I understand that the owners of the village were informed that it was a free service. Apparently, to all intents and purposes it was quite free. People were encouraged to participate m a series of tests in regard to their physical fitness, blood and other things to ascertain their condition. The basic situation would appear to be that the organisation was promoting a series of health care clinics which it operates from rest homes and health farms set up in the Warburton area. I have details with me but the point I wish to make is that people were recruited off the concourse of a shopping centre, asked to go through a series of tests and told that the results would be utilised in research at an American university. They were quite clearly given to understand that it was a free service. They were asked to fill in certain documents relating to the tests, and one of the things they were asked for was their Medibank number.

One of my constituents and members of that family refused to give their Medibank numbers and subsequently received bills from the diagnostic laboratories which had contracted to process blood tests on behalf of the organisation which was conducting the promotional exercise. These people were quite concerned that these bills had arrived. People were asked to go through a series of tests and complied because they thought that it would do no harm and would not cost them any money; but apparently it was to cost the Commonwealth Treasury money because the cost was being bulk billed against Medibank. The organisation that had contracted to do the blood tests was not informed that that was to be the case. The people who approached me and who went through the tests claimed that they had no prior knowledge that this cost was to be charged against health care and was a rip-off from Medibank. It would be a very lucrative operation to set up a clinic of any description in a shopping centre and to provide a free medical service to every person one could get to agree, including groups of school children and anyone else who was passing by, whether the service was needed or not.

Mr Baillieu - Are you criticising your Medibank?

Mr SCHOLES -I point out to the honourable gentleman that this occurred on 11 October 1976. I am not criticising Medibank, but there were people in his electorate or that of one of his colleagues who were abusing a situation. If he says that he supports that kind of thing, that is his business.

Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - We do not, but you created the system which allows it.

Mr SCHOLES -The honourable gentleman sometimes knows what he is talking about, but it is so rare that I cannot remember the last time it happened. What he is saying is that health care should not be provided to the Australian community because someone might cheat. He is saying that we should cut out all health care because someone might cheat. He should be quiet and behave like a member of the Australian Parliament.

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