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Catholic Health welcomes Labor's plan to boost hospital Medicare

Catholic Health Australia has praised the Labor Party's pledge to invest in the public hospital system as "moderate but well targeted".

It says yesterday's release of its Plan for Public Hospitals puts in place the building blocks for "a sustainable public hospital system".

Catholic Health Australia covers 22 public hospitals, seven of which are tertiary facilities.

CHA Chief Executive Officer Francis Sullivan said: "Labor has delivered new funding to meet the real costs of care in public hospitals. It's innovative funding for elderly people awaiting residential and other aged care will break the log jam in public hospitals."

He offered CHA's support for Labor's policy of using the private sector to alleviate public hospital pressures. This, he said, is similar to CHA's Medicare Grey Card concept, and he said contracting should target low-income elderly patients in the first instance. "Labor has introduced imaginative strategies to fix the structural problems which bedevil the health system," Mr Sullivan continued. "It is particularly important to have state and territory governments commit to real health funding levels."

He pointed out that Labor has signalled a concern for people with chronic conditions, especially the elderly and those with mental health problems. The proposed Medicare Commission, he suggested, should measure its success through setting clinically appropriate waiting periods and providing incentives that these be met by all providers.