The Australian Health Insurance Association (AHIA) today called on the Rudd Labor Government to reconfirm its commitment to the 30% Rebate on private health insurance and Lifetime Health Cover.

This follows the release of an ACT Labor Government submission to the Rudd Government’s National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission (NHHRC) which supports the abolition of the 30% Rebate:

“ACT Health would therefore support consideration by the NHHRC of any reforms that would see the redirection of the private health insurance rebate back into the public health system”
(page 16).

AHIA CEO, Dr Michael Armitage, said “This call by the ACT Labor Government to its federal counterpart to abolish the 30% Rebate should concern each and every one of the 10.9 million Australians who hold private health insurance”.

“The 30% Rebate and other policies, such as Lifetime Health Cover, keep private health insurance affordable for all Australians through the delivery of a balanced health system, with a strong private health sector complementing Medicare.

“The Rudd Government is currently undermining one of the key private health policy settings through its proposed changes to the Medicare Levy Surcharge thresholds and now we cannot be certain that the 30% Rebate or possibly Lifetime Health Cover will survive. This is despite a pre-election commitment from Mr Rudd, and most recently from Health Minister Roxon last week at the National Press Club, that Labor will not alter the 30% Rebate.

“This policy proposal from ACT Labor is part of a worrying trend by Labor to dismantle important private health insurance policies. Recent comments and exchanges at the Senate Committee hearings into the Medicare Levy Surcharge legislation by Labor Senators Doug Cameron and Louise Pratt seem to suggest that Labor is considering approaches to abolish the current policies:

Senator PRATT (ALP)—Your paper also highlights—and we have had some discussion about this already—the issue of the surcharge and the rebate for very high income earners and our need to turn attention to the question of why it would be a rational decision for governments to subsidise private health insurance for people who would hold it anyway, people who have very high incomes. What kind of policy measures do you think government should be looking to correct those kinds of problems?
(Hansard, 12 August 2008)

Senator CAMERON (ALP)—This (private health incentives) is an issue, I think, that…surely public policy needs to consider as to whether this system is actually delivering the intent of taking pressure off the public health system. It really needs to be looked at.
(Hansard, 31 July 2008)

“The ALP needs to tell the 10.9 million Australians who hold private health insurance, and in particular the 2.3 million with private cover who have an annual income of less than $48,000, once and for all, that the 30% Rebate and Lifetime Health Cover will not be altered in any fashion,” Dr Armitage said.

Media contact: Craig Simonetto 0413 722 281