Hansard Document

Hansard evidence from Budget estimates session in which the chief Medicare officer who advises Ms Roxon seems to have no idea of the consequences of this budget cut:

  1. Uninsured patients will end up in the public hospital system
  2. They have conducted no modelling on the knock on effects to the public system
  3. The medical profession was not consulted (a recurrent theme for this government)
  4. They cannot even tell us who will be affected.

Senate Hansard excerpts which support the comments above :



1)     Failure to consider uninsured elderly patients:

Senator SIEWERT-What happens for non-private patients?

Ms Robertson-The public sector will get picked up by the states and territories.



2)     No modelling on public hospital and waiting list effects:

Senator BARNETT-All right. What will be the impact on the public hospital waiting list?

Ms Robertson-We cannot predict that either.

Senator BARNETT-Why not? This has a direct impact on public hospital waiting lists and waiting times.

Ms Robertson-It depends on whom you talk to, I think.

Senator BARNETT-Have you done modelling on it?

Ms Robertson-We have done modelling on the services that exist now, but how those services change between public and private sector is not something that we would know with any certainty.

Senator BARNETT-I think everybody would know that it will put more pressure on the public system if you increase the cost of the private system. It is the same with the private health insurance rebate.



3)     No consultation:

Senator BARNETT-What consultation was held with the industry prior to this taking place?

Ms Robertson-This was a budget measure.

Senator BARNETT-So that is 'nothing'? Nil?

Ms Robertson-There have been many occasions where we have talked cataracts with the profession over the years. I could not say.

Senator BARNETT-But, in terms of this rebate cut, there was no consultation in advance of the budget decision?

Ms Halton-Correct.



4)     Who will be affected? (no idea).

Senator BARNETT-Yes. I will try to be very quick and then I will put the rest on notice. What percentage of the patients who undertake cataract surgery are on low incomes? How many are over 65 years of age? How many are veterans? I am happy for you take those on notice. The veterans issue is a very important one. Can you guarantee that all veterans will not be affected by this reduction in the rebate? Can you answer that question?

Ms Robertson-  Veterans are not paid through the MBS but through the Department of Veterans' Affairs.They have a different fee schedule to the MBS.

Senator BARNETT-So they will not be affected?

Ms Robertson -I cannot say that. That would be a question for the Department of Veterans' Affairs.




Can you appreciate the waste of taxpayer money in saving $307 on the Rebate cut, yet costing $3500 to the public hospitals if the patient goes public ? That is not good use of taxpayer money.

Why was there no modelling on the likely effects on public hospital waiting lists?


 A 50% cut is not a minor adjustment and has huge social implications. People are upset - what happened to community consultation? And why was there no consultation prior to these cuts?


Why disadvantage 123,000 older patients per year for a saving of 30 Million, when an 11% shift to public care will wipe out all of your proposed savings? That is not very good economics.


Do you appreciate how your changes will create a two-tiered system and disadvantage pensioners and low income patients?

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