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$300m windfall from PHI [private health insurance] failure must go to public hospitals.



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News Release

 

THE HON MICHAEL LEE MP

MEMBER FOR DOBELL

SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH

 

$300M WINDFALL FROM PHI FAILURE MUST GO TO PUBLIC HOSPITALS

 

The dramatic failure of the Government’s private health insurance initiatives leaves behind a $300 million w indfall that the Government must put into public hospitals, according to shadow health minister, Michael Lee.

 

Because people have rejected the private health insurance rebates the Government has spent $150 million less on them than planned.

 

The failure of the extra 1% Medicare Levy on high income earners means the Government has an extra $150 million in revenue as well.

 

Mr Howard should use this $300 million to improve the Commonwealth’s Medicare Agreement offer to the States.

 

Last week both Tasmania and West Australia threatened to introduce up-front fees for public hospitals unless the Commonwealth made a more reasonable offer. Here is a great opportunity for Mr Howard to break the deadlock.

 

The Howard Government’s obsession with private health insurance has been a damaging failure. This $300 million windfall is a result of that failure but it gives the Government an opportunity to repair some of the damage caused by its $800 million cuts to public hospitals.

 

The Government will be condemned if this money is just swallowed up into Mr Howard’s ‘consolidated revenue’.

 

Dr Wooldridge’s suggestion of an amnesty on the Medicare Levy for high income earners is just a sick joke.

 

The idea of giving back $150 million in tax to Australia’s richest people, rather than helping out struggling public hospitals, should be thrown in the wastepaper basket with the Minister’s other bright ideas, such as:

 

* giving control of the PBS to the States;

* McDonald’s vouchers for immunisation; and

* abolishing the Medicare Levy.

 

1 May 1998

 

Contact: Michael Lee 02 6277 4221 Parliament House  0417 277 477 Mobile