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Thursday, 20 April 1972
Page: 1286

Senator POYSER (VICTORIA) - My question is directed to the Minister for Health. Yesterday the Minister indicated that he had a reply for me in relation to a question I asked on hospitalisation of aged persons in nursing homes, but because of the time factor we stood it over by mutual agreement. May I have the answer now?

Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON - Senator Poyser asked me a question on Tuesday last in relation to payment of insurance benefits for aged persons in nursing homes, which had been the subject of a statement by the former Prime Minister, and he asked a question along the same lines during the last series of sittings. I promised to respond again to his question. I remind the honourable senator and the Senate that I did in fact make a statement on the background of his queston in the Senate on 5th October last year. Moreover, I wrote to Senator Poyser on this subject matter on 13th March this year, approximately 5 weeks ago. I have nothing to add to the information I gave in that answer to him by letter. I would be perfectly happy to have my answer incorporated in Hansard, and if Senator Poyser wants to respond again, he will be welcome to do so. I ask for leave to have my letter to Senator Poyser incorporated in Hansard.

The PRESIDENT - Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The letter read as follows):

I refer to your question without notice in the Senate on Tuesday, 7th March 1972 in relation to the payment of insurance benefits for nursing home patients.

The Government in the general election of 1969 and the Senate election of 1970 said that it would negotiate with the health insurance funds regarding the payment of increased benefits for nursing home patients who have been regular contributors to health insurance funds.

As I indicated in my statement to the Senate on 5th October 1971, the Government had for some time been examining the extent of Commonwealth financial assistance for all nursing home patients. At that time pending the completion of this review the Government announced, as an interim measure, the increase of $1.50 a day in the Commonwealth nursing home benefit.

I also stated in October 1971 that the problems posed by the assistance to be given to those requiring nursing home care was extraordinarily complex and that the review was continuing with the aim of introducing new long term arrangements as soon as it was practicable to do so.

The Government has made good progress since last October towards the completion of its review and I would expect that it will be finalised in the near future.

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