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Tuesday, 30 November 1965

Mr Reynolds s asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -

1.   Are medical fund organisations precluded from payment of benefits in respect of electrocardiogram services provided in a hospital, but not when these services are provided by a medical practitioner in private practice?

2.   If so, why is the contributor prejudiced by this distinction?

3.   Is this an unfair discrimination, especially in the circumstances of a patient rushed to hospital at the time of a coronary occlusion?

Mr Swartz - The answer to the honorable member's questions is as follows -

There is no prohibition by the Commonwealth on the payment of fund medical benefit by registered medical benefit organisations in respect of electrocardiogram services provided by public hospitals, and some organisations in fact do pay fund benefit for these services. It must be understood that the medical benefits scheme is intended primarily to assist persons who are insured with registered medical benefit organisations to meet the cost of medical services rendered by registered medical practitioners in private practice. Consequently, Commonwealth benefit is not payable in respect of electrocardiogram services provided by public hospitals. The question of providing fund benefit in these cases is one for determination by the management committees of the individual organisations. This is in line with the principle followed since the inception of the medical benefits scheme that organisations should be left free to conduct their own affairs with the least possible interference by the Government.

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