Catholic Health warm about Medibank Private sale

The Government should make the decision to sell Medibank Private in order to generate the maximum on its investment in health and plough the proceeds back into health care services across the country, Catholic Health Australia CEO Francis Sullivan said yesterday.

Momentum for the sale of the nation's largest health insurer is gaining pace, with the Prime Minister and other senior Government leaders now throwing their weight behind an idea to publicly float the company.

Questioned on the issue on the ABC AM program, Mr Sullivan said he thinks it's the right way forward and wants the Government to sell the insurer for as much as possible.

"The Government should make the decision, which generates for the community the maximum return on what has been an investment for a long time," he said.

"And we would hope then that that investment is ploughed back into health care services across the country," Mr Sullivan added.

According to various reports, the US private investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts is interested in paying up to $2 billion for Medibank. However, the Prime Minister has expressed his preference for a sharemarket sale, according to The Age.

Catholic MP Barnaby Joyce in the ABC interview said he would like to see a cap of 30 per cent on foreign ownership of the health fund.

Little Company of Mary takes over Hunter Valley hospital

Meanwhile, the ABC also reports that one of the oldest and biggest hospitals in the Hunter Valley has changed ownership.

The Sisters of Mercy are transferring the Mater Hospital at Singleton to the Little Company of Mary in a confidential deal, after running it for the past 85 years.

Mater Hospital chairman Brian McGuigan says the Sisters of Mercy had no choice but to let the hospital go.

"Because their numbers are fewer and because the average age of the nuns is increasing considerably, they've decided that they need to pass the mission on to an order of like-thinking nuns," Mr McGuigan told the ABC.

The chair of the Little Company of Mary, Helen O'Kane, says the deal will not affect jobs and will have no bearing on the hospital's $132 million public private partnership redevelopment.

"The Mater is running very efficiently at the moment, as far as I'm aware and as you know it's a publicly-funded hospital and there's a very good relationship been established over many years with the local area health board, and also with the New South Wales Government and we would see that there'd be no changes," she said.

US company expresses interest in Medibank Private (ABC AM, 5/9/06)
Little Company of Mary takes over ownership of Mater Hospital (ABC Newcastle 5/9/06)

Calvary completes Adelaide hospital acquisitions (CathNews 29/5/06)
Three more hospitals for Calvary Adelaide (CathNews 28/3/06)
Vatican cardinal visits Adelaide hospital patients (CathNews 9/2/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Health Australia
Medibank Private
Mater Hospital Singleton (Maitland-Newcastle diocese)
Mater Hospital (Hunter Health)

Catholic Health welcomes insurance reforms (CathNews, 27/4/06)
Catholic Health says Medibank sale proceeds must go to patients (CathNews, 18/8/05)

Medibank members may get discount (The Age, 4/9/06)

6 Sep 2006