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Increased medical benefit payments



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PRESS STATEMENT ΒΓ THE COMMONWEALTH MINISTER FOR HEALTH, ■ SENATOR THE HON. HARRIS W. WADE

INCREASED MEDICAL BENEFIT PAYMENTS

The in c r e a s e d Commonwealth m e d ic a l b e n e f i t paym ents announced b y

th e P rim e M i n i s t e r , S i r R o b e rt M enzies, l a s t n i g h t , w ould c l o s e th e o n ly

im p o rta n t gap re m a in in g i n th e N a tio n a l H e a lth Scheme.

The M in is te r f o r H e a lth , S e n a to r 7/ade, s a i d t i l l s to - d a y . .

S e n a to r Yfede s a i d th e N a tio n a l H e a lth Scheme h ad n e v e r b e e n s t a t i c

s in c e i t was in t r o d u c e d i n 1951· ·

I t h a d b e e n c o n s t a n t l y u n d er re v ie w , to b r in g i t i n t o l i n e w ith

c h a n g in g r e q u ir e m e n ts . T h ese re v ie w s w ould c o n tin u e when th e Government

was r e tu r n e d t o o f f i c e .

As was w e ll known, th e Government h a d b e e n c o n c e rn e d f o r some tim e

by th e w id e n in g d i f f e r e n c e b etw een d o c t o r s ' c h a rg e s an d th e b e n e f i t s

a v a i l a b l e u n d e r th e M e d ic a l B e n e f its Scheme. The G overnm ent was e n a b le d t o

make a p r a c t i c a l a p p ro a c h t o t h i s d i f f i c u l t y b y r e c e n t a s s u r a n c e s from th e

A u s t r a l i a n M ed ical A s s o c i a ti o n t h a t d o c to r s h ad a g re e d to s t a b i l i z e t h e i r

f e e s . T h is a s s u ra n c e was r e c e iv e d s h o r t l y b e f o r e t h e c l o s e o f th e r e c e n t

p a r li a m e n ta r y s e s s io n .

I n v ie w o f th e s e a s s u r a n c e s th e Government h a d d e c id e d t o in c r e a s e

th e Commonwealth com ponent i n m e d ic a l b e n e f i t p ay m en ts.

To e n s u re t h a t c o n t r i b u t o r s r e c e iv e d th e g r e a t e s t p o s s i b l e .

a s s i s t a n c e fro m th e in c r e a s e d Commonwealth p a y m e n ts, th e Government had

d e c id e d t h a t t h e s e in c r e a s e d b e n e f i t s sh o u ld b e made a v a i l a b l e w ith o u t th e

n e c e s s i t y f o r th e c o n t r i b u t o r to p ay in c r e a s e d c o n t r i b u t i o n s t o h i s m e d ic a l

b e n e f i t s fu n d .

The Government h a d a g re e d t o incx’e a s e Commonwealth m e d ic a l b e n e f i t

paym ents by 33^%> c o s ti n g £1+ m i l l i o n a y e a r . E v ery m e d ic a l b e n e f i t fu n d

c o n t r i b u t o r w ould r e c e iv e t h i s in c r e a s e .

T h is w ould s u b s t a n t i a l l y re d u c e th e d i r e c t o u t- o f - p o c k e t paym ents

w hich p a t i e n t s have h i t h e r t o b een r e q u i r e d t o make to b r id g e th e gap b etw een

d o c t o r s ' a c c o u n ts and paym ents made b y m e d ic a l b e n e f i t o r g a n iz a ti o n s .

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2

The in c r e a s e d Commonwealth paym ent w i l l re d u c e t h i s gap "by more

th a n 2Q f% > w hich w i l l b r i n g i t to th e lo w e s t p e rc e n ta g e i n th e h i s t o r y o f

th e m e d ic a l b e n e f i t s schem e, d e s p i t e th e f a c t tlia t a l l m e d ic a l p ro c e d u re s

now c o s t a g r e a t d e a l more th a n th e y d id when th e scheme was in tr o d u c e d ,

i n 1953·

. The p r o p o r t i o n o f th e a v e ra g e m e d ic a l b i l l met by Commonwealth

b e n e f i t w i l l be i n c r e a s e d , a s a r e s u l t , from ab o u t 26% t o ^>6% >.

The Commonwealth b e n e f i t f o r g e n e r a l p r a c t i t i o n e r a t te n d a n c e s ,

w h ich c o m p rise ~]2% o f a l l s e r v i c e s f o r w hich Commonwealth b e n e f i t i s p a i d ,

w i l l be i n c r e a s e d by 35s^« The Commonwealth b e n e f i t p a y a b le f o r m ajo r

o p e r a tio n s w i l l a l s o b e i n c r e a s e d b y o n e - t h i r d , from £ 2 2 .1 0 .0 t o £ 3 0 . 0 . 0 .

A number o f o th ez’ b e n e f i t s w i l l b e in c r e a s e d by v a ry in g am ounts.

Thus, f o r th e p r e s e n t c o n t r i b u t i o n o f 2 / - a week f o r a s i n g l e

man, and 1+/- a week f o r a f a m ily , a c o n t r i b u t o r w i l l r e c e i v e b e n e f i t s z'anging

from 1 8 / - f o r e v e ry v i s i t to a g e n e ra l p r a c t i t i o n e r t o £ 6 7 = 1 0 .0 f o r a m a jo r

o p e r a tio n .

W ednesday, November 1 3 , 1963·