16 September 2009
The Coalition has successfully moved to ensure Health Minister Nicola Roxon will not be able to make changes to the Extended Medicare Safety Net without reference to Parliament.
The Minister, in future, will have to seek the approval of both the House of Representatives and the Senate to change rebates paid for out-of-hospital health care costs under the safety net.
A Coalition amendment to the Health Insurance Amendment (Extended Medicare Safety Net) Bill in the Senate today imposed that constraint on Ms Roxon.
The amendment was supported by The Greens and Independent Senator Nick Xenophon.
The Health Minister was forced to make a second substantial back-flip as the legislation was being debated.
Ms Roxon gave in to concerns expressed by the Coalition about the impact of caps on safety net reimbursement for macular degeneration treatment with the Government agreeing to withdraw the item from the legislation.
That followed major changes to rebates for IVF treatment forced by the Coalition, Independent Senator Nick Xenophon and Family First Senator Steve Fielding.
Both back-flips have saved patients requiring macular degeneration and IVF treatment from facing significant additional costs for their treatments.
Shadow Minister for Health Peter Dutton said the Minister’s figures could not be relied upon as witnessed by the major changes to IVF caps and therefore in future she would have to seek approval of Parliament for future changes.
Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Health Administration Senator Mathias Cormann said the requirement to seek approval of both Houses was an important safeguard for patients who relied on the safety net to meet large out-of-hospital health care costs.