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Wednesday, 3 June 1970

Mr Jenkins (SCULLIN, VICTORIA) asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:

(1)   Has he held discussions withany of the trained persons or their representative organisations who supply (a) dental, (b) optometrical, (c) speech therapy, (d) physiotherapy, (e) occupational therapy and (f) ambulance services with a view to easing the cost burden of these services to the individual; if so, which persons or organisations have been contacted.

(2)   Has he made any decision regarding these services and their relevance to the national health scheme.

(3)   Is he able to say whether these services are economically insurable under voluntary health insurance.

(4)   What is the annual expenditure in Australia on each of these services.

Dr Forbes - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   Since my appointment as Minister for Health 1 have had numerous discussions with representatives of such organisations as the Australian Dental Association, the Australian Physiotherapy Association and the Australian Optometrical Association.

(2)   The question of extending the National Health Scheme to cover ancillary services is under examination by the Government.

(3)   It was the opinion of the Commonwealth Committee of Inquiry into Health Insurance that it would not be feasible to bring these ancillary services within the operation of the insurance scheme unless they were heavily subsidised by the Commonwealth Government In view of the great increase in expenditure in other areas of National Health currently being introduced it may be difficult to arrange for further extensions of the National Health Scheme at this stage.

(4)   The annual expenditure in Australia on each of these ancillary services is not known but it is estimated in the aggregate to be in excess of $100m.

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