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Medicare rebate should stay for Australian travellers



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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 SH A C K , M.P. FEDERAL MEMBER FOR TANGNEY

■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ I · · · ·

SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH

COMMONWEALTH

PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY MiCAH

P.O. BOX 1206, BOORAGOON. W.A. 6154 SUITE 8, GATEWAY MELVILLE CITY CENTRE BOORAGOON T E L (09) 364 5554 -FAX: (09) 364 9971

MEDIA RELEASE.

24th NOVEMBER, 1988. 90/89.

EMBARGO: 9.00 p.m.

MEDICARE REBATE SHOULD STAY FOR AUSTRALIAN TRAVELLERS

The Opposition does not believe there is any fairness or equity in the Government's proposal to remove Australians' access to Medicare rebates for medical expenses incurred overseas.

Referring to proposed amendments to the Health Insurance Act, Shadow Minister for Health, Peter Shack said, "Having realised that Medicare is far more expensive than contemplated, Labor is

now struggling to contain costs by lopping off this entitlement.

"We will oppose the proposed amendments in the Senate.

"But if the Government gets them through, with the support of the Democrats, it will mean that the Medicare levy of 1.25 per cent of gross salary ripped off you will provide you with absolutely nothing if you happen to require medical attention somewhere other than in Australia, or in one of the four countries with which we have reciprocal health agreements.

"Not that Medicare does that much for you if you get sick in this country, but at least it does provide some reimbursement for the cost of a doctor's visit.

"Although it's not a great deal of help if you need a hospital bed.

"To be sure of getting the treatment required at the appropriate time you have to be willing to pay for private insurance on top of the compulsory Medicare levy.

"This is, in effect, double taxation. But what the Government is trying to do now is to pave the way for triple taxation.

"By arguing that Australians should make their own arrangements to cover all their overseas medical (as well as hospital) expenses, the Government is saying - 'It's not enough to fork out for the levy, and for a bit of extra private cover, you have to

find the dollars for travel insurance as well'.

"This is clearly most unfair to people who while paying taxes and the Medicare levy in this country may find themselves spending a prolonged period overseas on a study exchange program, or on business, for example."

Contact: Peter Shack / Delys Newman (062) 77 4169