Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 12 Hansard (Wednesday, 24 November 2021) . . Page.. 3605 ..
The Commonwealth will, through programs separate from this agreement, provide 100 per cent of the funding for the following COVID-19 related activities …
On that list, among others, are MBS items for telehealth and private pathology testing. It then goes on to say that we will share, fifty-fifty, responsibility for hospital-related activities, including testing and diagnostics, and a range of other health activities which do not include testing for people to undertake interstate travel.
My argument, in response to Ms Castley, would be that there is an inconsistency. We are continuing to maintain our responsibility under the national partnership agreement, where we are both providing and undertaking testing through ACT government managed clinics and in partnership with private pathology. We are maintaining our share of funding for that. The commonwealth are maintaining 50 per cent funding for the clinics that are run by the ACT government, by Canberra Health Services, but they are not meeting their responsibility of 100 per cent MBS funding for private pathology funding under the same circumstances in clinics that are run by private pathology, and they should be.
MS CASTLEY: Minister, if there is no change at our end, at what point did these fees appear?
MS STEPHEN-SMITH: As I indicated earlier in question time, there has been a general expectation, as there is when proof of vaccination is required for travel, that there is a certificate, a piece of paper, that is required to be produced for that. A text message is not sufficient. When ACT Pathology has been providing those, that is something that has been charged for since 2020, the whole way through. If you required that certificate, there was a charge associated with that, as there would be in private pathology as well. The testing itself has not been charged for, and there has not been any change the whole way through.
What there has been a change and a clarification around—and this has come from my conversations with ACT Health and Canberra Health services—is that a public health order in Queensland or another jurisdiction that requires people to show proof of a negative PCR COVID-19 test is a public health order for the purposes of us providing that free testing. Where a certificate is not required, in line with what Greg Hunt announced that we would do, without talking to any state or territory health minister about it, we will be able to undertake that testing. That was absolutely clarified in my meeting with Canberra Health Services and ACT Health this morning, and the website is being updated to ensure that Canberrans have clarity around that. We are also working with private pathology providers to ensure that that is consistent across all of the ACT government testing facilities.
MRS JONES: Is the government receiving a 50 per cent repayment from the federal government for the tests which include the provision of a certificate, for which Canberrans have been charged $112 each?