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Catholic Health says Medibank sale proceeds must go to patients


Commenting on news of a possible sale of the Government-owned Medibank Private health insurer, Catholic Health Australia's Francis Sullivan has said that the proceeds of any such sale should be returned to Australia's chronically ill and elderly.

Finance Minister Senator Nick Minchin announced on Tuesday that he had ordered a follow-up to the 2003 investigation into the $1 billion-plus sale of the Government-owned health fund.

"The Australian Government has decided to review its ownership of Medibank Private Limited and will update a scoping study into the possible sale of the company," he said in a statement reported in The Age.

Health Minister Tony Abbott said this month that he would be surprised if Medibank remained in public ownership for long.

Catholic Health CEO Francis Sullivan said: "The main game will be to ensure that the years of public investment in Medibank return a substantial funding source to the chronically ill and elderly of Australia."

"It is probably inevitable that Medibank Private will be sold," he added. "More importantly will be the scrutiny of how the proceeds from such a sale will be spent."

Mr Sullivan said that Australia's health and aged care system "still disadvantages people with chronic and complex conditions and in particular elderly and frail patients".

"Any windfall gain from the sale of Medibank must be immediately redirected into bolstering access to quality care for those with little choice but to wait on public lists or rely on families and friends to get by," he said.

"Whether Medibank remains in government ownership or not is ultimately a political decision. But whether sick and marginalised people receive essential care is far more important.

"The Senate would do well to signal early in the piece that it has conditions related to the access for frail and sick Australians to essential care as provisios over the sale of Medibank."

Catholic Health Australia represents the largest grouping of non-government health and aged care providers.

SOURCE
Proceeds from Medibank sale is Senate's show (Catholic Health Australia 17/8/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Health Australia
Medibank Private

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18 Aug 2005