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Opposition health policy inflationary

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"The Federal Opposition's health policy would be inflationary whereas Medicare had helped curb inflation,"the Federal Health Minister Dr Neal Blewett said today.

Dr Blewett was commenting on figures released today which showed that in tie September quarter inflation had been 1.3% - lowest for the September quarter since 1971.

In the full year, inflation was 6.1% without taking into account the effect of the introduction of Medicare. With Medicare included, it was 3.6%.

Dr Blewett said the Opposition's health policy which was broadly outlined by the Opposition Leader, Mr Peacock, in Brisbane yesterday showed their health scheme would be a mish-mash of , expensive promises tailored to suit vested interests rather than

the public.

He said the Opposition's policy aimed to dismantle Medicare and force people into taking out expensive private insurance.

"Private insurance costs increased rapidly in the last years of the Fraser Government, adding significantly to inflation yet disadvantaging lower income families who could not afford the high premiums."

Dr Blewett said middle and low income families received the greatest benefit from Medicare.

He said the fairness of the 1% levy brought very real benefits to such families.

"A family with an income of $18,000 a year or $345 a week is covered for essential medical and hospital cover under Medicare for a contribution of only $3.45 a week," Dr Blewett said.

"This provides medical cover by your doctor of choice outside hospital and first class service by salaried or sessional doctors in a public hospital.

"Such a family would have to pay a minimum of $10.70 a week for private insurance - even after allowing for the health tax rebate - if the old Liberal scheme had continued.

"That would be the cheapest health insurance a family could obtain under the Liberal private health insurance scheme.

"It is not surprising that faced with this kind of choice more than 2 million Australians were without health insurance or Commonwealth care on January 31 this year.

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"Now all are automatically covered under Medicare.

"These figures show that it is simply nonsense to claim the Hawke Labor Government has neglected Australian families.

"By selling out to vested interests as Mr Peacock is suggesting they would do the Opposition is proposing to further disadvantage those middle and low income earners."

Canberra 25 October 1984