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Democrats support full scrutiny of Medicare Plus.

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Senator Andrew Bartlett Leader of the Australian Democrats

Senator Lyn Allison Health Spokesperson

November 27, 2003 MEDIA RELEASE 03/850

Democrats Support Full Scrutiny of Medicare Plus

Scrutiny of the Government’s Medicare Plus package was important and should still be done through a Senate inquiry, the Australian Democrats said today.

Democrats’ Health Spokesperson, Senator Lyn Allison, said the Senate inquiry would allow full scrutiny and public input into the many measures contained in the Government’s re-worked and improved Medicare proposals.

“Regardless of whether the Bill is dealt with this session or not, most of the Medicare Plus package is outside legislation and should be examined by experts, health professionals and the public,” Senator Allison said.

“The Democrats supported the Senate inquiry into the full Medicare Plus package, will participate fully in the inquiry and demanded the inquiry be done as quickly as possible.”

Democrats’ Leader, Senator Andrew Bartlett, said suggestions by Labor that discussions would undermine the inquiry were rubbish.

The Democrats will always be open to ways to improve the health system, particularly ways to improve bulk billing.

Labor’s claims that there should be no safety net had been revealed as nothing more than a political football, because the Medicare system has contained a safety net for the past 20 years, he said.

“Labor has a political agenda on health. The Democrats will not allow Labor’s political agenda to frustrate necessary improvements to the health system. Patients must not end up the casualties.

“The Democrats will not be bullied by either major party when it comes to examining and considering all options for a better health system for Australians.

“The Democrats will only support moves that improve the health system for Australians and do not undermine the fundamental principles of Medicare.”

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