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Bloody tax has private hospitals looking for help

PRIVATE hospitals are up in arms about a NSW Government move to charge them for the blood and blood products they receive from the Red Cross Blood Service.

The Australian Private Hospitals Association has been advertising in newspapers urging families to lobby their local Labor MP to oppose what they called the “blood tax”.

But some blood donors have written letters to editors saying companies operating private hospitals make very healthy profits and can well afford to contribute to the cost of collecting, storing and distributing the blood which is given freely by donors for the public good.

More than 50 private hospitals are collecting signatures from hospital staff, doctors and patients to present to the NSW Legislative Assembly.

The Australian Medical Association says the move to charge private hospitals for supplying blood could mean higher costs for private patients, like those at Coffs Harbour's Baringa Private Hospital, and fewer blood donors.

The government will net $8 million a year from the decision, with private hospitals widely expected to pass the costs on to patients.

AMA NSW president Brian Morton said if private patients were forced to pay for blood it would be a form of discrimination.

“The supply of blood is a community service ... to receive blood free in a public hospital but pay for it in a private hospital is a form of discrimination against private hospital patients, some of whom are self-insured,” he said in a statement.

Under the current system, State and Federal governments jointly pick up the bill for blood supplied by the Red Cross to public and private hospitals in NSW. For public hospitals, the price of the blood they require is incorporated into the budgets given to them by the state government. No similar system is in place to recoup costs for private hospitals.

NSW Premier Nathan Rees said the government was simply trying to establish a level playing field by requiring private hospitals to pay the same fee as public hospitals.



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