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Planned premium caps no answer to private health insurance rebate.



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Kerry Nettle, Senator for New South Wales

MEDIA RELEASE 31.01.03

Planned premium caps no answer to private health insurance rebate

The Commonwealth Government should stop fiddling with the expensive Private Health Insurance Rebate and direct the $2.3 billion a year to public health services, Australian Greens Senator Kerry Nettle said.

“The Howard Government appears to have finally realised that this poorly crafted policy is financially unsustainable,” Senator Nettle said.

“The Government intends to introduce legislation in coming weeks to ‘contain future premium increases’.

“Details are still being finalised, so we don’t know the final shape of the proposal, but the Government wants Parliament to approve the changes in the Autumn sittings in a bid to put a lid on the next round of insurance premium increases.

“This policy has failed the Government’s own tests. The 30 per cent rebate has done nothing to alleviate the pressure on the nation’s public hospitals. Nor has it kept younger people in private health insurance.

“The cost of private insurance continues to rise and the proportion of the population with private hospital cover has fallen during the past two years.

“It must be remembered that these rising subsidies go not to health care infrastructure or personnel, but instead simply to pay for insurance policies.

“Every rise in premiums costs the public purse more money. The funds are now seeking premium rises above inflation, at the same time as some of them have voted hefty increases in the fees and retirement schemes for their directors.

“Trying to contain premium increases is just fiddling with a flawed policy. The Government should abandon the rebate and channel the money to where it is most needed - our public hospitals, which provide a service to all residents.”

Contact - Jon Edwards 0428 213 146