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Turnbull rejects private health rebate in Budget, favours tobacco tax

In his response to the Federal Budget, Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull has vowed to block the means tests on private health insurance, instead offering to replace the $1.9 billion by lifting tobacco taxes.

The private health insurance rebate scheme delivered in the Federal Budget involves means testing the private health insurance rebates for the wealthy. Under the changes those couples on $150,000 (and singles $75,000) will have the rebate reduced from 30 percent to 20 percent, while those couples earning up to $240,000 and $120,000 for singles will have the rebate dropped to 10 percent.

Turnbull has rejected the plan, believing the money can be better spent, by taxing the “single most preventable cause of ill-health and death in Australia” rather than putting pressure on public hospitals by making private health insurance more costly.

“There’s a tough choice for a weak Prime Minister: raise $1.9billion by making health more expensive and putting more pressure on the public hospital system, or by adding about 3c more to the price of a cigarette and taking pressure off the public health system.”

The majority of the Budget largely went unchallenged by the Opposition.

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