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Pay for hospital boost from Private health rebate, not from draining Murray River funds.

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DEMOCRATS MEDIA 04/952 THURSDAY 23 SEPTEMBER 2004 SENATOR ANDREW BARTLETT LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRATS Pay for hospital boost from Private health rebate, Not from draining Murray River funds If this election is to be a referendum on Medicare, as Mark Latham suggests, then it must include a 'neither of the above' option, as both Liberal and Labor policies fail to address core problems, Democrats Leader Senator Andrew Bartlett said today. "The best protection for Medicare it to ensure the Senate is strong and independent enough to negotiate with whoever is in Government to strengthen Medicare, not see it undermined." The Australian Democrats will not support the ALP’s plans to redirect funds earmarked for the Murray Darling river system. "The $800m from the National Competition Policy should still go to water reform and the wasteful Private Health Insurance Rebate should fund Mark Latham’s proposed injection into hospitals. "Labor admits the private health insurance rebate is poor policy, but is keeping it anyway and is proposing to drain funds marked for water reform. "The Democrats have welcomed the ALP taking up our initiative for publicly funded specialist outpatient clinics at hospitals. "The Democrats would only support ALP plans to scrap the Medicare Safety Net if they expanded and acted on their plans to address high out of pocket costs for specialist, and brought midwives into the system. "We want to work with the ALP to solve the problems with the Commonwealth-State Australian Health Care Agreements. The constant Federal / State buck passing on health has got to end. "We will need to scrutinise the Labor proposal for GP clinics further. While they can increase access to bulkbilling GPs it won’t take the pressure off emergency departments," Senator Bartlett concluded. Media Contact - Daele Healy - 0419 867 649