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Proposed Increases in doctors fees

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The Minister for Health, Mr.-R.Y. Swartz, said today the 1

Commonwealth Government did not have the constitutional power to

control doctors' fees. ■ ­

Mr. Swartz said he had been asked by the press in New South

Yales to comment on newspaper reports of an impending increase in

doctors 1 fees.

Mr. Swartz said, "The first point to be kept in mind is that

the Commonwealth increased its benefits by one-third as from June 1,

1964. This increased the general practitioner benefits from 6/­

to 8/-. In April, 1965, the benefit funds introduced tables

providing substantial increases in fund benefits for general

practitioner services. In New South Yales the increases were from

10/- for both surgery consultations and home visits to 12/- for

surgery consultations and 16/- for home visits. These increases

were designed to reduce the gap between the benefits payable and

doctors' fees then in force.

"Ye were aware that the Australian Medical Association was

having a survey made of the costs of conducting a practice. These

costs, of course, represent less than half the amount of gross

professional income.

"I have had no official advice of the result of the survey.

However, I have read in the press that the survey disclosed an

increase of about five percent in the costs of conducting a practice.

I have also read that some local medical associations have decided to

make no increases in fees on the basis of this survey. At the

same time it would appear that a number of local associations in New

South Yales have recommended increases in fees of from 12 per cent

to 19 percent and that one association has recommended increases of

up to 33y percent for home visits.

"I have not been informed of the basis for the proposed

increases in fees.

"There will be a normal meeting of the Commonwealth Health

Insurance Council later this year, as all members of the Council are

aware. . ,

"However, I would like to emphasise that there is no intention

on the part of the Government to increase its benefits, nor is there

any immediate likelihood of an increase in the ceilings of fund

benefits which, of course, would necessitate a further increase in

contributions by members of the public."

Canberra, Friday, 2nd July, 1965.