Medibank sale proceeds 'ideal' for research fund

27 May, 2014

Proceeds from the sale of Medibank Private should go to the proposed Medical Research Future Fund rather than co-payments from sick people, the Consumers Health Forum (CHF) have said in a statement on Tuesday (27 May).

And Australians affected by hearing loss would be reassured if the government undertook to ensure that proceeds from the sale of Australian Hearing are re-invested for the benefit of hearing services.

"Tipping the expected $4 billion from Medibank's sale into the research fund would produce a win-win for Australia's health," the Chief Executive Officer of CHF, Adam Stankevicius, said.

"What could make more sense than to re-invest into medical research the profits from Medibank, garnered over the years from the premiums paid by millions of consumers? Part of the Medicare sale legislation should require that the sale proceeds pass to the Medical Research Future Fund.

"That approach would certainly be more equitable than depending on the $5 out of every $7 co-payment patients will have to shell out when they see the doctor and when they get diagnostic tests.

"And a similar re-investment approach should apply to Australian Hearing which the government is proposing to sell. Proceeds from that sale should be reinvested for the benefit of consumers affected by hearing loss.

"There is concern among those affected by hearing loss that the sale of Australian Hearing will impact on services, particularly for those on low incomes with significant hearing problems.

"The government could go a long way in reassuring the community that hearing services will benefit from the sale of Australian Hearing.

'Strong support' for increased medical research funding

"CHF has previously argued that the profits from the Medibank sale should rightly be ploughed back into health projects for the betterment of all Australians.

"The virtue of deploying the Medibank proceeds into the research fund would open the potential for an earlier start to research projects than that envisaged under the Budget future fund proposal.

"CHF strongly supports increased funding for medical research. We would like a priority of the fund to be the study of how we can make more effective use of existing medical knowledge.

"For instance, ensuring better application of what is already known to the treatment of such common conditions as high blood pressure and coronary disease, would save hundreds of lives and millions of dollars in avoidable hospital admissions.

Stankevicius  said: "If the government is serious about boosting Australia's medical research effort, the Medibank sale offers a handsome early opportunity to get on with it."