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Medicare Gold: guaranteed health care for older Australians: Statement by Federal Labor Leader Mark Latham and Shadow Minister for Health Julia Gillard.



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FEDERAL LABOR LEADER MARK LATHAM

STATEMENT BY FEDERAL LABOR LEADER MARK LATHAM AND SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH JULIA GILLARD

Medicare Gold: Guaranteed health care for older Australians

A Federal Labor Government will introduce Medicare Gold - a $2.9 billion plan to pay for health care in public and private hospitals for Australians aged 75 and over so that our elderly receive medical treatment when they need it.

Our senior citizens will no longer have to choose between extended waiting times in a public hospital, rising private health insurance premiums or out-of-pocket costs in a private hospital.

Medicare Gold will provide universal hospital insurance for over 75s, allowing access to both public and private hospitals. Patients will be covered for all costs unless they choose to move outside the program.

Our oldest citizens have served our country well and we owe it to them to lift their quality of life by giving them access to hospital care without large out-of-pocket costs and without long waiting times.

Medicare Gold will:

• Pay for care in public and private hospitals for those aged 75 and over so that they can get treatment when they need it. • Provide public hospitals with additional funding to increase the services they provide to those aged 75 and over. • Negotiate fee schedules with private providers for hospital beds. • Allow patients to choose their own doctors and hospitals. • Eliminate queuing on hospital waiting lists for older Australians.

Medicare Gold will also ease the squeeze on families by reducing the cost of private hospital cover.

People aged over 75 account for five per cent of private health insurance holders but 23 per cent of payments by the funds on hospital cover. By removing the need for them to take out hospital cover, the cost of private hospital cover will fall by at least 12 per cent for all Australians.

Labor will retain the Private Health Insurance rebate in full.

Medicare Gold will also tackle public hospital waiting lists by having more elderly patients treated in private hospitals.

Together with Labor’s $3.4 billion New Deal to Save Medicare, which will boost GP bulk billing rates back to around 80 per cent, and the $1 billion investment in hospitals through Labor’s Plan for Better Hospitals and Better Care, Labor’s health plans will relieve the pressure on our public hospitals and ensure that all Australians get the health care they need when they need it.

BRISBANE 29 SEPTEMBER 2004