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Increase in Private Health Insurance Rebate throwing 'good money after bad'



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Senator Kerry Nettle

Senator for New South Wales

Increase in Private Health Insurance Rebate throwing 'good money after bad'

Senator Kerry Nettle, 23rd August 2004

Greens Health Spokesperson Senator Kerry Nettle, has described the government's announcement that they will increase the Private Health Insurance Rebate for pensioners as throwing "good money after bad."

"The Greens will oppose the legislation required to affect this increase and call on Labor to do the same," Senator Nettle said.

"Mark Latham needn't wait until he is Prime Minister to oppose this increase he can join with The Greens and vote it down in the Senate.

"To accept that this increase in the rebate is a waste of public money is to accept that the entire Private Health Insurance Rebate is a waste of money.

"The tragedy of this announcement is that it will pour another $450 million into the pockets of insurance companies on top of the existing $2.5 billion that should be going to improving public health outcomes.

"Research has shown that it was the financial penalties that are aimed at younger people that encouraged membership of private health funds, the rebate itself has been largely ineffective. This policy will not see any significant increase in health fund membership by older Australians.

"Older Australians, particularly those on lower incomes, desperately want improvements to GP services and public hospitals not private insurance.

"This is not about improving public health outcomes it's about putting money into the pockets of older Australian who already have private health insurance.

"Last election John Howard bought the votes of many older Australians by giving health concession cards to self funded retirees. This election he is trying to do the same thing by reducing their health fund fees.

"The Greens are committed to improving the public health outcomes for all Australians and as a result oppose this waste of tax payers' dollars.

"The Greens have consistently opposed the Private Health Insurance Rebate and called for the $2.5 billion pa to be used to boost public health services."

Contact Jon Edwards - 0428 213 146