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Independents stand in way of means test

19 August 2011 - 6:08pm

Debate over the government's plan to means test the private health insurance rebate continues today with key independent Rob Oakeshott urging the government to focus more on rural areas.

He has also called for the sale of Medibank Private in order to ease the strain on the budget, stating that the government should only regulate the private health care sector, not remain a stakeholder in it.

Oakeshott has raised concerns over the level of care in regional Australia, particularly his electorate in Lyne, New South Wales.

The government's plan to means test the rebate aims to free up an estimated $100 billion over the next three decades.

Previous figures released by the government have claimed that the change would largely only affect wealthier households.

Oakeshott believes the sale of Medibank Private would raise billions in revenue, assisting the Gillard government in its mission to return the nation to budget surplus.

The member for Lyne has said that he wants to test the government's ability to commit to sound policy, rather than ignore viable alternatives purely because of political differences with the opposition.

The bill is currently in need of two further votes to be passed in the house of representatives, having been knocked back on two previous occasions.