I strongly welcome the resumption of talks between Medibank Private and Calvary Health Care.
Many Medibank members face significant out of pocket costs for treatment at Calvary hospitals as a result of the failure of the two parties to reach agreement.
The dispute particularly affects patients in South Australia, the ACT and Tasmania.
As I have said from day one, decisions regarding quality and safety in health care need to be consistent across the country and should be overseen by the independent Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care.
Whilst everyone in the health sector should be focussing on hospital reform that improves the rate of preventable readmissions, the approach of simply punishing hospitals and patients will not work. It simply removes money from its contracted hospitals without providing any alternative or incentive funding to build capacity to assist with reform.
This sort of use of market power is precisely what Labor warned of when the Abbott Government made the decision to sell Medibank.
The Abbott Government failed to make the case for the sale of Medibank Private and it remains unclear whether it has provided any benefit to either the health system or health insurance policyholders.
This dispute also comes at a time when the Abbott Government has approved the two largest increases to private health insurance premiums in a decade.
The Abbott Government’s lack of leadership on this issue is consistent with the utter disregard it has shown the health portfolio since it came to office.