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Cabinet should consider Democrats' advice on Medicare

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Senator Meg Lees Australian Democrats Deputy Leader and Health Spokesperson



FEDERAL Cabinet should seriously consider an Australian Democrats' proposal to replace the Medicare levy surcharge on high income earners who don't take out private health insurance with a more progressive levy on all high income earners.

"Our plan would raise an additional $360 million to $380 million a year - money which could go directly into the public health system," Democrats Health Spokesperson Senator Meg Lees said.

A report in this morning's Australian says Dr Wooldridge is scheduled to appear before the Budget razor gang this Thursday. "Instead of slicing the razor through the public health system, the Government should be seriously considering the savings our fair and sensible plan would represent," Senator Lees said.

"It goes without saying, any extra money raised should be spent on health."

The Democrats had a long record of calling for a more progressive Medicare levy but believed the Government's proposed surcharge was basically a fine.

AS I have said before, why should any Australian be punished for refusing to buy a product they don't want? The Democrats are very uneasy with that concept," Senator Lees said.

Under the Democrats' proposed Medicare levy scale:

• Those with a taxable income of between $50,000 to $75,000 would pay an additional 0.5 per cent in their Medicare levy; • Those with a taxable income of. between $75,000 to $100,000 would pay an additional 0.8 per cent; • Those with a taxable income of more than $1 00,000 would pay one per cent.

Senator Lees also called on the Government to release the full Productivity Commission report on health insurance.

"The Democrats do not believe the Productivity Commission was allowed to go far enough and we believe there should be a more wide-ranging inquiry into Australia's health system funding," she said. 'The sooner the Government releases the Commission report, the sooner we will be able to begin addressing some of the problems facing the country's floundering health system."

To arrange comment contact Kelly Westell on (08) 8295 8911 or (08) 8293 7804 ah.

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