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  1. 1
    Melissa Sweet

    Melissa Sweet

    Andrew Podger (immediate past president of the The Institute of Public Administration Australia, and a former Secretary of the Federal Health Department and Public Service Commissioner) asked for these comments to be posted on his behalf:

    ‘The views of Keleher, Sainsbury, Leeder, Baum and Moore about the Government’s PHI proposals are sadly predictable. There is a superficial logic to helping to pay for the Government’s additional spending on public hospitals and primary health care by means-testing the PHI rebate. But there is no recognition in their analysis of the underlying problems of current arrangements for PHI nor that the changes proposed would only exacerbate them.

    It is also extraordinary to me that those calling the rebate ‘middle-class welfare’ fail to question the far greater subsidies to the middle class through universal Medicare which they so strongly (like me) support.

    The underlying problems are the distortions apparent to any PHI member who presents at a public hospital: do I go public or do I go private? This also flows on to distortions in the hospital market between and amongst public and private hospitals for private and public patients.

    The main cause is the Medicare levy exemption which crudely forces higher income people to take up PHI even if they have no interest in it. But the Government plans to increase the surcharge and the value of the exemption, because means-testing the PHI rebate without such complementary action would do all that the industry is complaining about: discourage the young and the healthy and return us to what we experienced before the lifetime cover reforms of spiralling premiums and falling membership.

    The answer to the underlying problems lies with getting rid of the surcharge exemption (which the industry will oppose with even more vigour that their current complaints), and then ensuring the PHI rebate is subject to the funds taking wider responsibility for their members, genuinely relieving Medicare of costs. That is the approach implicit in the Henry Report.

    This would of course be harder to do – but it would be genuine reform in contrast to the mickey mouse nonsense now proposed.’

    Reply
  2. 2
    Melissa Sweet

    Melissa Sweet

    For those interested in the Australian Private Hospitals Association’s response to this article, see this Crikey article by the association’s ceo, Michael Roff: http://www.crikey.com.au/2011/08/12/private-health-insurance-rebate-public-hospitals-need-it/

    Reply
  3. 3

    Peter Sainsbury

    There is much merit in what Andrew Podger says but my colleagues and I were trying to engage in a real, current debate about which a decision will be made in parliament in the near future, not a possible future debate, or rather debates.

    Reply

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