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Catholic Health says hospitals starved of funds

Catholic Health Australia CEO Francis Sullivan has said that the latest private health insurance figures "confirm that private hospitals continue to lose their share of the benefits of health insurance".

Commenting on the release of figures for the March quarter, he said: "Over the last twelve months the private hospitals have been squeezed by health funds to such a point that they now receive less than half the total benefits available."

Mr Sullivan warned that if the trend continues, private hospitals will struggle to cater for longer staying "more complicated" patients.

He also commented on figures revealing a drop in bulk billing figures, suggesting an erosion of the benefits of Medicare for all Australians.

"The Commonwealth has let Medicare's value slip and the gap between its payment and the real costs of care just continues to widen," he said. "The Medicare debate has been too skewed towards doctor incomes rather than the economic and social benefits Medicare insurance can deliver for patients, in particular the poor, the vulnerable and the chronically ill."

Meanwhile the independent Catholic lobby group PolMin has expressed disappointment that the Senate's Medicare Committee has failed to deal with the "core issues" of the current inequitable access to regional and rural health care services.

The Committee is conducting an inquiry and is scheduled to report to the Senate on 12 August.

It says the Committee has not grasped the reasons why Australia's regional and rural health care services "are in such a parlous state".

A PolMin statement released on Friday suggests that the Committee is focusing on issues of concern to urban Australians because "most of the Senators to not live in regional and rural Australia".

Catholic Health Australia/Catholic Health Australia/PolMin

Catholic Health Australia | Canberra Update
Health Insurance Commission
Australian Political Ministry Network

19 May 2003