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Labor to work with public and private sectors to tackle health costs.

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Nicola Roxon MP Shadow Minister for Health MEDIA RELEASE

Labor to work with public and private sectors to tackle health costs

Shadow Health Minister Nicola Roxon today said health costs were one of the many growing pressures on working families.

In a speech to the Australian Health Insurance Industry Association, Ms Roxon said a major challenge facing government was to bring the best of the public and private systems together, working in the most effective way possible, to bring costs down and quality up for all patients.

She also warned doctors that if they did not improve their record on informing patients of medical fees in advance, Labor would seriously consider the need to “amend federal legislation or beefing up the role of the Private Health Insurance Ombudsman.”

Ms Roxon cautioned that informed financial consent - making sure patients know what fees they are paying before treatment - was an important part of allowing people to manage and plan for their health costs.

A 2004 survey showed that 21% of in hospital episodes involved a gap payment and a lack of informed financial consent - although recent AMA campaigns seem to be having some effect.

Ms Roxon confirmed that Labor supports the 30%, 35% and 40% rebates for private health insurance.

Labor believes that both the public and private services have crucial roles to play in the health sector. Many Australians rely on private health insurance to secure their health care and the rebate makes it affordable for them. Labor is committed to supporting those Australians who make that choice.

The clash between public and private in the health sector is an old one that has had its day. More importantly, Labor is committed to making sure both our public and private systems can work together for the benefit of the community, and that they are of world class standard.

Wednesday 4 April 2007. For more information or copy of full speech, please

contact Sean Kelly (03) 9687 7355 or 0417 108 362