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Thursday, 9 December 1971
Page: 4601

Mr Hayden asked the Minister senting the Minister for Health, notice: repre- upon

(1)   Did the Senate Select Committee on Medical and Hospital Costs recommended that the 50 cents fee on prescriptions dispensed by friendly society pharmacies should be abolished.

(2)   If so, does the Government intend to accept this recommendation; if not, why not.

Dr Forbes - The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

(1)   Yes.

(2)   The requirement for members of friendly society dispensaries to pay the fifty cents patient contribution, in respect of pharmaceutical benefit prescriptions, was introduced with effect from 24th April 1964. Only members who joined friendly society dispensaries after that dale were required to pay the patient contribution, which was then 50 cents.

This requirement was introduced because of the growth in membership of friendly society dispensaries after the implementation of the fifty cents patient contribution from 1st March 1960. The Government was concerned that the intended deterrent effect of the patient contribution was in danger of being nullified, firstly, because of the growth in membership of friendly society dispensaries and secondly, because other organisations were seriously considering entering the field of rebate insurance on the fifty cents, patient contribution.

During the Government's recent consideration of the level of patient contribution for general pharmaceutical benefits is also considered the position of members of friendly society dispensaries. In the recent amendment to the National Health Act the rights of persons who joined friendly societies prior to 24th April 1964 to receive rebates up to' the full amount of the new patient contribution, viz., one dollar, have been preserved.

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