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Australian Government committed to fair and manageable scheme to assist doctors to meet their liabilities.



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Media Release

Senator the Hon Kay Patterson Minister for Health and Ageing

September 9, 2003

AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT COMMITTED TO FAIR AND MANAGEABLE SCHEME TO ASSIST DOCTORS TO MEET THEIR LIABILITIES

The IBNR levy is an integral part of the Australian Government’s medical indemnity package to ensure that doctors can meet their liabilities in a manageable and affordable way, the Minister for Health and Ageing, Senator Kay Patterson, said today.

“I told the Australian Medical Association at our meeting this morning that we are happy to work co-operatively with them to ensure that doctors can continue to practice with certainty and confidence and deliver vital services to their patients,” she said.

Senator Patterson said the Australian Government had stepped in to guarantee doctors’ liabilities of an estimated $460 million and the Incurred But Not Reported scheme seeks repayment of taxpayers’ funds by doctors over the next 10 years.

She said doctors’ groups, which were involved and consulted in every step of designing the IBNR levy, had expressed some recent concerns about some details of the scheme.

Senator Patterson said: “I told the AMA President, Dr Bill Glasson, that we are prepared to look at their suggestions with the aim of ensuring that doctors can continue to practice with certainty.

“The Australian Medical Association undertook to go away and work up some of its ideas and get back to the Government.

“I believe the levy scheme is the fairest and best way to help the doctors to meet their personal liabilities in a manageable and affordable way over a 10-year period.

“If the Government had not stepped in a large proportion of doctors would not be covered for past claims. They would be personally liable for payouts.

“I believe that the levy scheme is fair. It assists the doctors to meet their unfunded liabilities and shoulder their

responsibilities in a manageable way.

“The community needs the doctors’ valuable skills and admires the profession’s dedication. We want to co-operate to ensure that doctors can have the certainty to continue to practice and meet their patient’s needs.

“The medical indemnity issue was not of the Government’s making, however, to ensure ongoing care for patients we have acted to deliver unprecedented support for the profession.”

For more information contact Randal Markey, Media Adviser, (02) 62777220