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Democrat-initiated Medicare inquiry opens in ACT.

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Senator Lyn Allison

Australian Democrats

Health and Ageing Spokesperson

21 July 2003 MEDIA RELEASE 03/521

Democrat-initiated Medicare inquiry opens in ACT As the Senate Select Committee inquiry into Medicare gets underway in Canberra today, the Australian Democrats say more sensible alternatives to the Government’s package will be canvassed. Academics and health policy experts will join Senators in roundtable discussions at Parliament House on the past, present and future role of Medicare and bulk billing. The committee has received over 150 submissions from the public, more than 20 from the ACT. Democrats’ inquiry member and health spokesperson, Senator Lyn Allison, said, “The Government produced its package with almost no consultation and, not surprisingly, there is little support for its proposals.” In May, Newspoll found only 10% think they will be personally better off under the changes to Medicare and the ACNielsen poll found just 14% think the package will improve the health system. “Once again, the Senate will do the work and is much more likely to come up with an approach that will solve current problems rather than destroy Medicare.” ANU Professor John Deeble, the architect of Medicare will participate in the roundtable. In his submission he says: These changes go to the heart of Medicare. Conceptually, they are a reversion to a pre-Medicare system and, indeed, even to the 1960s arrangements which the Medibank of 1975 replaced. Senator Allison said, “The Democrats will not allow a return to the bad old days of health care being available to only those who can afford high GP fees and private health insurance. “This Senate inquiry will show the Federal Government how to conduct a real health policy debate by getting input and ideas from experts, academics, community groups and consumers.” The report of the inquiry is due to be tabled in the Senate in September. Contact: John Derry 0408 056 167