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Audit report validates Coalition policy reforms and condemns Government $450m waste

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Media Release Dr Bob Woods



The Auditor General's report into Medifraud and Excessive Servicing and the Health Insurance Commission is an appalling indictment of the failure of this Government to prevent the abuse of taxpayers funds, Federal Shadow Minister for Health Dr Bob Woods said today.

" The Australian Audit Office has indicated that Medicare fraud and excessive servicing wastes more than $450 million every year " said Dr Woods. "In the seven years between 1985 and 1992 only 43 health providers were prosecuted and only $5.6 million recovered. Clearly investigations were either inadequate or ineffective.

The report identifies over 15,000 Medicare cards which were wrongly issued to prohibited non citizens! These have been used to access health, social security and other benefits. Only 300 of these were recovered.

Even more disturbing is the report's findings that there have been no prosecutions for kickback arrangements between medical practitioners even though the report indicates that these bribes are becoming entrenched.

Much of the money wasted on fraud and excessive servicing is due to abuse of the bulk billing mechanism. It is an explicit example of the need to restrict the availability of bulk billing to those who really need it - pensioners and other low income earners. The

estimated $450 million waste is a terrible tragedy for Australian taxpayers and our crippled economy. It is an indication of the need for the Coalition Health policy which restricts bulk billing to those who need it.

This is the second damning report into the operations of the HIC in less than two days. Only yesterday the efficiency report by Harvey Bates lambasted the HIC operations saying fraud investigation was fragmented, inconsistent, under funded and totally lacking in national coordination or direction.

The Government should immediately undertake the legislative and organisation reforms needed. If they don't the Coalition will undertake tifter the election.

Unfortunately these alarming findings are only a small sign of the greater malaise and inefficiency which has hindered the delivery of good health care in Australia. Fraud and overservicing are the symptoms of the inefficiency plaguing the HIC. Waiting lists are the symptoms of the parlous state of the public hospital system. In both cases it is the health and the hip pocket of all Australians which suffer."

17th December 1992 COMMONWEALTH


For further information contact Dr Woods or Leisa O'Connor on 06 277 4661. After hours contact Dr Woods 06 295 1800.