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Strong Catholic Health support for Labor's Medicare Gold Card

Catholic Health Australia (CHA) CEO Francis Sullivan has called the ALP's proposed new hospital benefit for the over 75 year olds as the "biggest health reform to assist the elderly since the instigation of Medicare".

Labor leader Mark Latham yesterday unveiled a $3.7 billion plan committing a future Labor government to assuming full responsibility for the hospital costs of the elderly, vowing: "We will ensure that they can access a hospital bed - public or private - straight away."

"Under Medicare Gold, these costs will be met by the commonwealth, allowing the funds to reduce their hospital insurance premiums by at least 12 per cent," Mr Latham said.

Catholic Health's Francis Sullivan commented: "CHA has called for many years for a program similar to Medicare Gold and we are delighted that a major party has taken the bit between the teeth and is prepared to progress reform in the interests of elderly sick and frail Australian patients."

"Medicare Gold gives elderly people a better chance to access hospital care and lessens the potential for them to remain stranded on public hospital waiting lists," he said. "This is a fair and practical solution to what has become a major social concern and should be supported by all groups who have the interests of the patient as their prime concern."

Mr Sullivan said that Medicare Gold would place downward pressure on health insurance premiums and be a winner for younger, healthier fund members.

"Most importantly Medicare Gold makes the health system more equitable and keeps the focus on access to care not an individuals capacity to pay," he said.

"Medicare Gold will enable average and low income people to have a better chance to receive earlier hospital care and we believe this is consistent with our ethos of ensuring dignity and respect for everyone regardless of their circumstances, means and life prospects," he said. "The Catholic hospital system will support Medicare Gold and sees it as being consistent with its ethos of providing comprehensive care to as wide a cross section of the community as possible."

Mr Sullivan said that Labor's policy of full Commonwealth responsibility for the aged means that it is now in the Commonwealth's interest to better fund residential and community aged care services.

"This will be an incentive for more aged care beds and care places to come on stream."

Medicare Gold Strongly Supported (Catholic Health Auustralia 29/9/04)

Catholic Health Australia | Election Package
Latham buys the grey vote (The Australian 30/9/04)
Health groups welcome Labor plan (Herald-Sun 29/9/04)
Health industry gives its approval for Labor's health policy (ABC Radio PM 29/9/04)
Mental Health Needs More (Catholic Health Auustralia 29/9/04)
Coalition Dementia Package Welcomed (Catholic Health Auustralia 27/9/04)

30 Sep 2004