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Thursday, 29 October 1970

Mr Armitage asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:

(1)   Has consideration been given to the submission made to the Senate Select Committee on Medical and Hospital Costs on behalf of the National Tuberculosis and Chest Association on 14th September 1970 that oxygen bc supplied as a pharmaceutical benefit in certain cases where its use in the home is recommended by a specialist physician.

(2)   In particular, will he give urgent consideration to the supply of oxygen free of charge in cases which involve pensioners.

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

(1)   and (2) Yes. I have received a recommendation from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee that oxygen be made available in certain cases, as a pharmaceutical benefit. Al] pharmaceutical benefits are available free to pensioners.

My Department is currently examining the many problems which must be overcome before the Committee's recommendation can be given effect. The main difficulties are associated with the size and weight of containers, which make impracticable the distribution of oxygen through the normal channels used to supply pharmaceutical benefits. In addition, the National Health Act currently makes no provision for the supply of apparatus and appliances necessary in administering oxygen.

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