Does Catholic Health really want to destroy Medicare? John Menadue

May 14, 2013

In his submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration on February 15, 2013 Martin Laverty, the CEO of Catholic Health wrote.” Another option (to achieve a single funder in health) would be to embrace the Medicare Select proposal put forward by the National Health and Hospital Reform Commission. Medicare Select would enable Australians to choose a health and hospital plan best suited to their needs. They would be able to be insured by Medicare or instead opt out to be insured by a private health insurer or one operated by a non-profit organization…”

Medicare Select envisages all Australians being enrolled in a Government funded plan, but with the opportunity of opting out and moving to a selected plan to which Government funding would be directed on a capitation basis, and which could involve extra services funded by private insurers.  The ‘plans’ would be managed by private corporations or not-for-profits.

In effect this would be a 100% PHI rebate – not 30%, not 40% that we have at present, but 100%.

Forty seven percent of Australians have private hospital insurance coverage and 55% have private general treatment coverage.If those who presently hold private health insurance(about 50%) opted for Medicare Select, over $30b presently spent by governments would be channelled through the high cost financial intermediaries, the Private Health Insurance funds. It would be goodnight Medicare.  Make no mistake about it, Medicare Select is designed to cripple and displace Medicare and give a widened role for PHI.

A colleague of mine Ian McAuley has highlighted major problems with Medicare Select.  He notes that it appears first to have been designed to secure a privileged place for private insurers who would impose a bureaucratic overhead on healthcare without adding value.’ Second, it is based on a misunderstanding of “choice” for we cannot know what our future healthcare needs will be. Third it is likely to result in cost escalation to the benefit of providers; this is an inevitable outcome of the intrinsic “moral hazard” associated with all insurance. And fourth, it makes it easy for a Government to redefine Medicare, the Government program, as a bare bones program for the poor or indigent, thus establishing a two-tier health system”

Medicare Select is not an “option” being floated only by Martin Laverty .It is being insinuated as a firm proposal of the NHHRC which was chaired by a senior executive of BUPA. The PHI lobby is continually extolling the virtues of Medicare Select which would greatly expand their business and cripple Medicare. It would take us further down the path of private health insurance which is destroying equitable and efficient health care in the US. Warren Buffett has described private health insurance as the “tape worm “in the US health system.

But that seems to be the path that Martin Laverty wants to take Catholic Health and destroy Medicare in the process

Is that what the Stewardship Board of Catholic Health want in “advancing the healing ministry of Christ” as set out in its Charter? , This not an academic issue particularly as Catholic Health is the largest provider of non-government health care in the country with 19 000 aged care beds, 9,500 beds in 75 health care facilities, 8 dedicated hospitals and palliatives care facilities and 35,000 employees

The Medicare Select option is a long way from the “option for the poor” which the Catholic Church espouses. It is an option to advantage the rich.

(See a speech I gave on this and particularly the damage PHI is doing and will continue to do. ..:” Now is the time for all good people to come to the aid of Medicare”… October 2009 on my web)































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