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Wednesday, 14 September 1983
Page: 823


Dr BLEWETT (Minister for Health)(11.13) —I take up the question of security raised by the honourable member for Braddon (Mr Groom). The Health Insurance Commission, which will be running the medicare system, has an impeccable record for security, as good as any of the other funds, although I am not denying that they have a very good record of security. We are confident that that record will be maintained. Nevertheless, just as under the present system it is sometimes necessary to follow through an exploration of doctor fraud or overservicing, so it will be under the Medicare system. It is no different from the present situation in that at times, in order to examine problems in relation to medical fraud and overservicing, one has to examine a doctor's practice and behaviour. That is a problem in the present system and no doubt will be a problem of the coming system, but the Health Insurance Commission has an impeccable record in regard to the general security of the system. That was one of the reasons for making the decision, and that will be maintained.

In relation to employment, I must say that Tasmania has done peculiarly well, I think better than any other State. The regional arrangements we have made, that is, the definition of regional funds, particularly benefit Tasmania. In addition , of course, the other private funds will benefit from the deregulation and diversification concessions which have been made. Also their employment is not as threatened as they once thought it was by the overcompetitive ability of Medibank Private because we have placed strict restrictions on the ability of Medibank Private to expand. I think that whole package of actions has gone a long way toward meeting and undermining many of the exaggerated fears about unemployment in the industry, particularly in Tasmania, which has benefited very much from the decisions in relation to regional funds.

Question put:

That the clauses be agreed to.