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Wednesday, 22 August 1984
Page: 193

(Question No. 890)

Senator Messner asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 10 May 1984:

(1) What would be the estimated cost of universalising the pensioner health benefit card.

(2) What is the estimated weekly value of the pensioner health benefit card (a) in terms of Commonwealth concessions, and (b) in terms of State/Territory concessions.

Senator Grimes —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1) I indicated in my answer of 1 December 1983 to part (5) of Senator Messner' s Question on Notice No. 116 (Hansard, 1 December 1983, page 3186), that the estimated cost of extending Commonwealth fringe benefits to all pensioners was about $116m in a full year. This would not have changed significantly since, except that most of the cost attributable to medical benefits (and much of the cost of free medical treatment in the case of veterans) has already been absorbed by the introduction of Medicare. As a result, the cost of extending Commonwealth fringe benefits to all pensioners is now estimated to be of the order of $60m in a full year.

(2) See my answer to parts (1) to (4) of question No. 116.