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Pathology ruling vindicates Opposition's stand



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P A R L I A M E N T O F A U S T R A L I A

H O U S E O F R E P R E S E N T A T I V E S

PETER S H A C K . M .P. FEDERAL MEMBER FOR TANGNEY

COMMONWEALTH PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY MICAH

P.O. B O X 1206. BOO RAG OO N. W .A. 6154 SUITE 8, GATEWAY MELVILLE CITY CENTRE BOORAGOON TEL. (09) 364 5554

FAX: (09) 364 9971

SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH

MEDIA RELEASE.

15TH DECEMBER, 1988. 96/88.

PATHOLOGY RULING VINDICATES OPPOSITION'S STAND

The decision by Federal Court Judge, Mr Justice Gummow, that the Hawke/Keating Government's new Medicare schedule for pathology rebates was illegal vindicates the Opposition's moves to have the new schedule disallowed, according to Shadow Minister for Health,

Peter Shack.

"Given the vast number of inequities and discrepancies in the schedule we believed that the Government had no alternative but to ask the Pathology Services Advisory Committee (PSAC) to go back to the drawing board and reappraise its recommendations.

"However, with the support of the "misguided" Democrats the Government defeated our moves in the Senate to disallow the introduction of the new schedule with effect from November 1.

"The Democrats stand condemned for allowing themselves to be brainwashed by the Government over this matter, given that an independent assessment by officers of the Department of Community Services and Health found that the schedule had a number of what the Government is fond of describing as

"unintended consequences".

"How can a schedule be regarded as fair when in some instances the rebate payable does not even cover the cost of the materials needed to perform certain tests?

"In accepting PSAC's ill-considered recommendations, the Government and the Minister for Community Services and Health, Dr Blewett, showed that patients' interests come a poor last to their desperate attempts to contain the costs of Medicare.

"Costs which can purely and simply be attributed to the Government's own efforts in promoting Medicare as a "free" service which removes the normal accountability checks and balances from both the receivers and providers of health care.

"The Government might well be faced with "big administrative difficulties" if it now has to pay rebates from November 1 according to the old schedule, but if it had acted out of commonsense in the first place it would not be in its current dilemma. Nor would it have court costs to meet as well.

"In the interests of seeing the continuing delivery of first class pathology services in this country it is to be hoped that the Government will now sit down and talk to the pathologists and set PSAC to work on sorting out a realistic new schedule."

Contact: Delys Newman (062) 77 4169