Senate debates

Thursday, 19 March 2009


Community Affairs Committee; Reference

10:01 am

Photo of Joe LudwigJoe Ludwig (Queensland, Australian Labor Party, Manager of Government Business in the Senate) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That the following matter be referred to the Community Affairs Committee for inquiry and report by 15 May 2009:

Any Government proposal to implement the Government’s announced 2008-09 Budget measure to increase compliance audits on Medicare benefits by increasing the audit powers to Medicare Australia to access the patient records supporting Medicare billing and to apply sanctions on providers.

Photo of Mathias CormannMathias Cormann (WA, Liberal Party, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Health Administration) Share this | | Hansard source

by leave—On behalf of the opposition, while we support the reference to a committee, we do want to place on record that we do not support the proposition to increase the audit powers of Medicare Australia to access patient records. The government would be well aware that doctors are telling us that they would rather go to jail than hand over patient information and breach doctor-patient confidentiality. We think that this measure has the potential to lead to bad health outcomes and is a gross invasion of privacy. We also note that Labor in government has tried this before—all the way back in 1993—and it was forced into a significant backdown then. But, as I said, we do support the reference of the inquiry.

Question agreed to.