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Opposition response to Deeble's paper on medical supplies



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χ£ MEDIA RELEASE DR BOB WOODS SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH

OPPOSITION RESPONSE TO DEEBLE'S PAPER ON MEDICAL SERVICES

The Government must address as a matter of urgency the problems of overservicing and overusage within Medicare as revealed in the issues paper " Medical Services through Medicare", Dr Bob Woods Federal Shadow Minister for Health said today.

" The utilisation of medical services has risen by 23% between 1984-5 and 1989-90 ( 114.2 million items to 153.2 million items) M said Dr Woods.

" The Government's approach to this problem is clearly

inconsistent with its approach to the problem of overuse and overservicing within the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, as announced last August.

The Government then stated that services which were free were usually overused. It introduced a price signal to minimise this overuse including a $2.50 charge for pensioners' pharmaceuticals.

If the Government believed that this was the remedy for

pharmaceutical overservicing, why does it not believe that it is the remedy for medical overservicing?

Price signals, even fully rebatable ones, would undoubtedly reduce demand for these services.

A further cause of overservicing which has not yet been addressed by the Government is the increasing practice of defensive

medicine by doctors who fear possible litigation.

This problem has been rapidly escalating and is clearly having a deleterious effect on both the quality and quantity of medical practice in Australia.

A qualitative evaluation of the causes of the remarkably rapid increase in utilisation of diagnostic services is essential. The lack of a price signal and the practice of defensive medicine are two significant causes but the whole issue must be addressed as a matter of urgency." ...

20th February 1991 ·- -

CONTACT DR WOODS 06 277 4661/2/3(W) OR 06 295 1800(H) OR LEISA O'CONNOR 06 277 4661/2/3

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