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Thursday, 20 August 2009
Page: 8556

Mrs HULL (3:21 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Health and Ageing. Minister, how many families will miss out on IVF as a result of the government’s changes to the safety net?

Ms ROXON (Minister for Health and Ageing) —I thank the member for the question, another question on an issue that is affecting many people and concerning many people. One of the main reasons that so many families are particularly concerned is because of a lot of the speculation before the budget that items were going to be removed from the Medicare safety net or in fact were going to be means-tested. I can assure your constituents, along with all others, that neither of those things is correct. The government is not removing any item from the Medicare safety net and is not means-testing any item on the safety net. The steps that are proposed from the budget measure are to limit the exorbitant fees that can be charged and are being charged by some IVF practitioners—not all of them but some.

The answer to your question, to be honest, rests entirely on the providers of the services. Those who are charging an average fee for a typical cycle of $6,000 a year will have no increased expenses at all. I know because we have had very many representations from parents but also from providers to say that they do charge those fees and that they understand that we are taking a sensible move because there are some excessive fees, frankly, being charged by some providers who know that there are many families who are very desperate to be parents and quite rightly should be supported by the government, but that 78c in every dollar should not go into the pockets of highly paid health professionals preying on parents who are desperate to have children. People who are charged average fees will not be worse off. I have said that on the record before and I continue to say that. It is in the hands of those specialists, who can still make very good incomes, to make a decision whether they want patients to pay for this or whether they are prepared to moderate their fees. This is a sensible measure and the opposition should support it.