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Democrats attempt to break health funding impasse



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Senator Meg Lees

Australian Democrats Parliamentary Leader

6 April, 1998 MEDIA RELEASE 981234

DEMOCRATS ATTEMPT TO BREAK HEALTH FUNDING IMPASSE

The Australian Democrats are calling for all Premiers, State Health Ministers and the Commonwealth Minister for Health to put detailed submissions before the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee.

Leader of the Australian Democrats, Senator Meg Lees, says the issue of health is too important for all Australians for the current impasse between the Federal and State Governments over the level of funding for public hospitals to remain.

"John Howard has had his chance to sort out the funding crisis and he has failed dismally," Senator Lees says.

"This Senate Committee is an opportunity for the Premiers and State Health Ministers to present all the necessary detail in an impartial and unemotional forum.

"John Howard continues to deny that there is a major problem with Australia's public hospitals. Australians are anything but relaxed and comfortable as their confidence in the public hospital system continues to be eroded.

"Unlike Mr Howard, I've actually been to the hospitals and spoken with the people who work there. I know how desperate this situation is. The Government cannot ignore this problem any longer."

Before the Government referred private insurance to the Productivity Commission, the Democrats called for a wide-ranging inquiry into the funding of Australia's entire health system. This call was ignored.

"When the Productivity Commission reported, lo and behold, it recommended 'a broad public inquiry into Australia's health system'."

Senator Lees will sit on the Community Affairs Legislation Committee as it examines the legislation relating to the Medicare Agreements between the Commonwealth and the States.

Senator Lees has written to the Committee suggesting that it requests the following information from all jurisdictions:

• Funding levels for public health services over the past 10 years • Current demand for all levels of surgery • Current demand for emergency services • Demand for other services such as physiotherapy, dietetics, speech and occupational therapy • Hospital waiting list.data over the past ten years • Trends in private health insurance membership over the same period

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for further comment: Meg Lees 0418 804 505

Alan Jenkins 02 6277 3991 COMMON-wEALTB PARLIAMENTARY LJBRAJ)'

.A.us-rR...a.Lidar."

http://www.democrats.org.au