Labor has no plans to reduce the Australian government’s rebate for people with private health insurance if it wins the upcoming election, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says.
Along with vowing to cap annual increases in private health insurance premiums at two per cent, the opposition has committed to a broad Productivity Commission review of the sector.
Health spokeswoman Catherine King said on Thursday the party would not pre-empt the commission’s advice.
“Obviously in terms of the private health insurance rebate, we understand that it’s an important part of affordability in private health insurance,” she told the National Press Club.
“But I’m not going to rule in or out what the productivity commission might recommend or might not recommend, nor what our response would be.”
Asked about the rebate on Friday, Mr Shorten firmly ruled out a reduction.
“We’ve got no plans to reduce the private health insurance rebate,” he told reporters in Melbourne.
“But what we do have is the plan to cap the fee increases.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters in Melbourne the Labor leader could not be trusted on private health insurance.
“He’s very shifty about these things,” Mr Morrison said.
“He says one thing but his policies say another. I don’t think Australians can take any comfort when it comes to private health insurance.”
Mr Morrison said there would be more stress on the public hospital system and higher premiums under Labor.
The rebate is income tested, meaning people’s eligibility to receive it depends on their income.