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Wednesday, 14 September 1983
Page: 809


Mr CONNOLLY(9.32) —I must respond to some of the comments made by the honourable member for Chisholm (Ms Mayer). First, I draw her attention to the report of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts on Medical Fraud and Overservicing. I do not know whether she has read it but from the comments she has just made I rather doubt that she has. I think it contradicts quite clearly some of the observations she was making. My colleague the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Carlton) has been making the very important observation that clause 12 is fundamental to this legislation. It is for that precise reason that the Opposition is objecting most strongly to the philosophical background to it. One can demonstrate easily that most people are attracted to the concept of ' getting something for nothing'. Unfortunately, that seems to be a pretty normal human reaction. As my honourable colleague pointed out, the simple fact is that the increase in the cost from 30c to 85c in the guaranteed coverage from the Medicare fund will cost revenue $1.7 billion this year. It is all very well to suggest-


Dr Everingham —Mr Chairman, I take a point of order. Is this relevant to the clause?


The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Rocher) —I believe from what I have heard so far that it is.


Mr CONNOLLY —The additional cost which will be required to apply this amendment to clause 12 will ultimately have a major impact on the overall cost of the delivery of health services to the Australian people. I would be grateful if the Minister for Health (Dr Blewett), who is at the table, would approve the inclusion in Hansard of the table contained on page 136 of the report of the Public Accounts Committee which refers specifically to the medical benefits schedule, which demonstrates quite clearly that unless the Government is prepared to make reforms in those areas as well as meet overall cost of services being given by doctors and the medical profession generally, one is opening up a situation which will be virtually out of control. I seek leave to have the table incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The table read as follows-

TABLE 11: CHANGES BETWEEN 1958 AND 1978 IN THE COMMONWEALTH MEDICAL BENEFIT REFUND SCHEDULE

Number of Items

Concerned With Service Type of Item

Service Type

1958 1978 Attendance by doctor 4 47 Obstetric service 13 30 Other surgical procedures 700 1 300 Radiology services 50 150 Pathology services 200 250 Anaesthesia 5 100


Mr CONNOLLY —The linkage between proving financial support through Medicare and the medical benefits schedule is fundamental to this question. I urge the Minister to give it further consideration.