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Wednesday, 10 April 1957

Mr Webb (STIRLING, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) b asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -

1.   Will the present agreement providing for the payment of a subsidy of 8s. a day and 12s. a da> when the patient is insured under the Commonwealth hospital benefits scheme, expire on the 20th August?

2.   Was the 8s. subsidy introduced in 1945, and have hospital costs since skyrocketed?

3.   If so, will he consider substantially increasing the subsidy to accord with present-day costs?

4.   Will he also consider the application of the maximum benefit to insured patients who have to enter unregistered hospitals because of shortage of accommodation at registered hospitals?

Dr DONALD CAMERON (OXLEY, QUEENSLAND) - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: -

1.   The current hospital benefits agreements between the Commonwealth and the States were made in 1952. The agreements were for an initial period of five years and contained provisions which extended their operation for a further period of five years upon the giving of appropriate notice by either the Commonwealth or a State. The Commonwealth has given the appropriate notice to five of the States and the agreements with these States will therefore continue until 1962. The agreements provide for the payment of a hospital benefit by the Commonwealth to the States of 12s. a day for public hospital patients who are uninsured social service pensioners and a hospital benefit of 8s. a day for other public hospital patients. Payments of additional hospital benefit of 4s. per day are made to insured patients by the Commonwealth through registered hospital insurance organizations.

2.   Commonwealth hospital benefit of 6s. per day was first paid in 1946. The rate was increased to 8s. per day in 1948. Hospital costs are a matter for the State governments.

3.   See No. 1.

4.   Hospital benefit is paid to patients in both public and private hospitals who are receiving hospital treatment and it is not proposed to alter this policy.

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