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Further evidence rebate changes would hurt health system!

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Fri, 12th June 2009

Further evidence rebate changes would hurt health system!

The Hon Peter Dutton MP Shadow Minister for Health and Ageing

Senator Mathias Cormann Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Health Administration

Joint Release

Significant increases in the cost of private health, hundreds of thousands fewer Australians with private cover and significant additional pressure on our public hospitals - these will be the results of Labor's broken private health promises after two successive budgets according to the government's own figures.

The evidence is becoming more overwhelming by the day according to Shadow Health Minister Peter Dutton. "Treasury conceded only last week that private health insurance premiums would increase automatically by up to a staggering 66.7 percent, as a direct result of the Rudd government's decision to means test the rebates," he said.

"Of course this will see more people drop their private cover and join public hospital waiting lists. Up to 100,000 fewer people will be in private health as a result of the proposed rebate changes according to independent research released by Catholic Health Australia today.

"That is four times as many people dropping their cover as a result of Labor's second strike against private health than the Rudd government would want to make us believe.

"This report by Access Economics confirms our worst fears - the government has significantly underestimated the impact of its latest attack on private health," Senator Cormann said.

"People leaving as a result of the rebate measure come on top of the 492,000 people who the government expects to leave private cover over the forward estimates as a direct result of last year's decision to change the Medicare Levy Surcharge thresholds," he said.

"Contrary to Nicola Roxon's public rhetoric, that 492,000 people figure was again confirmed by both Treasury and Health at Senate estimates last week, and forms the basis of $740 million in estimated savings in the Rudd Labor budget.

The Access Economics study expects 216,000 extra admissions to public hospitals as a result and that at a time when public hospitals are already under pressure. "No wonder that Kevin Rudd and Nicola Roxon did not want a proper Senate inquiry into the changes," Senator Cormann said.

"Kevin Rudd is taking billions of dollars out of the health system to pay for his reckless spending. The effect of that needs some proper scrutiny.

"We call on the Rudd government to support a proper Senate inquiry before the Senate Community Affairs Committee during the winter break. A proper Senate inquiry will be able to assess the impact of the rebate changes on private health membership numbers, premiums and public hospitals," Senator Cormann said.