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Health insurance bill may not pass senate

18 August 2011 - 3:49pm

The Greens have stated that they will vote against an increase in the Medicare Surcharge Levy.

Senator Richard Di Natale has told reporters that: "We don't support the Medicare Surcharge Levy when it comes to private health insurance".

"We shouldn't be penalising people for not taking out private health insurance - that's a mistake," he asserts.

The Labour government currently wants to increase the surcharge from one to 1.5 per cent of income for high earners who have not taken out private health cover.

Bills introduced into parliament in July also propose a means test for the health insurance rebate.

If passed, these would have an effect on individuals earning more than $80,000 a year and it is estimated that it could save the government $100 billion over the next three decades.

This is the third time the government has tried to get the bills passed after they were blocked on two previous attempts.

However, the Greens have asserted that they will stop the bill from being passed again when it is debated next week.

An increase in power in the senate means that the party has greater influence than previous parliaments.

The bill is a critical part of the government's strategy to return the budget to surplus.