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Catholic Health says election pledges "spread Medicare benefits further"

Catholic Health Australia (CHA) CEO Francis Sullivan yesterday welcomed promises from both major political parties to fund incentives to boost the rate of bulk-billing in order to strengthen Medicare.

Speaking from Adelaide, where he was presiding at CHA's annual conference, Mr Sullivan first welcomed the ALP promise to increase the rebate for all bulk billed consultations together with additional incentives to GPs to achieve high bulk billing levels as a positive contribution to investing in Medicare.

After the counter-promise from the Liberal-National Party Coalition later in the morning, he told the ABC that the Coalition's plan to pay the full rebate for all GP consultations, not just those where the doctor bulk bills, "would boost the level of bulk-billing, or the number of times people go to the doctor and don't have to pay an extra fee".

"Every Australian gets an extra benefit straight away when they visit the GP. It also means that more Australians are more likely to be bulk billed, and where Australians are charged an out of pocket fee, this puts downward pressure on the size of that fee," he said.

Mr Sullivan called on Labor to match the Coalition's added bonus and scrap its insistence on paying more only if doctors bulk bill.

He said: "As of today, given the Coalition announcement, it's incumbent upon the ALP to match the announcement so that they can also demonstrate to all Australians, that when they go to the GP, they're going to have an extra $4.50 immediately on the table."

Mixed reaction from health groups over bulk-billing incentives (ABC Radio PM 6/9/04)
ALP spreads Medicare benefits further (Catholic Health Australia Canberra Update 6/9/04)

Parties battle over Medicare (The Age/AAP 6/9/04)
Catholic Health Australia

7 Sep 2004