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Wanted: one health minister who can do the job properly



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MICHAEL LEE HP 29 AUG ’ 96 18:26 No.006 P.01 ID:

THE HON MICHAEL LEE MP MEMBER FOR DOBELL SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH

N E W S

R E L E A

S E

WANTED:

ONE HEALTH MINISTER WHO CAN DO THE JOB PROPERLY

John Howard's announcement today that future increases in health insurance rates must be approved by the Prime Minister and the Treasurer as well as the Health Minister, is a vote of no confidence in Dr Wooldridge.

It doesn't take three ministers to do this job, but it does take one Minister who is doing his job properly.

"Hie Prime Minister is seeking to divert attention from the fact that his health polity is unravelling before our eyes.

Last week while Mr Howard, Mr Costello and Dr Wooldridge were trumpeting the tax rebate benefits for private health insurance contributors, someone in the Howard Government was secretly approving massive increases by at least nine major funds.

As late as this morning, the Health Minister's spokesman claimed the government was unaware of the proposed Increases.

Why doesn't the Minister know what his own department is doing?

When did Dr Wooldridge, the Prime Minister and the Treasurer learn of the proposed increases?

The Opposition will pursue these and many other questions when Parliament resumes.

The Government’s answers will help determine Labor’s position art the proposed Medicare surcharge for high income earners and the tax rebate.

Last week I advised Dr Wooldridge that the price of Labor's support for the medicare surcharge was reversal of the decision to cut $310 million from public hospitals and a substantial injection of new funds for public hospitals.

With this week's revelations that the Howard Government had secretly approved massive health fund rate increases, a new second condition for Labor support is the requirement for an Independent Audit of the private health insurance industry.

Z . 2 .

T elephone (043) 34 34 66 ♦ F ax (043) 34 34 22

COMMONWEALTH p a r l i a m e n t a r y l i b r a r y

MICHAEL LEE MR ID: 29 AUG’ 96 18=2? No.006 P.02

I welcome the support of the AMA, the Australian Private Hospitals Association and the Australian Hospitals Association for this Inquiry.

Contrary to Senator Newman's claims, the current Senate Committee has not examined this matter.

Under the Howard Government the Health Department appears to be rubber stamping premium increases after a cursory examination of the level of fund reserves.

The proposed Independent Audit will allow an open and transparent examination of the industry's management practices, investment returns and overhead costs.

29th August, 1996

Further information: Michael Lee 043 96 6339 After Hours

06 277 4221 Parliament House