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Qld wants Medicare rebate for PCR tests

Qld wants Medicare rebate for PCR tests
Photo: Qld wants Medicare rebate for PCR tests
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is calling for a Medicare rebate for PCR tests for inbound travellers until the state reaches its 90 per cent COVID-19 vaccination target.

The state will scrap quarantine for fully vaccinated domestic travellers from declared hotspots once it hits an 80 per cent double-vaccination target.

But they will still need to show proof of a negative PCR test within 72 hours of travel on arrival.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has written to his Queensland counterpart Yvette D'Ath urging her to consider rapid antigen testing or at least jointly funding PCR tests for people travelling domestically.

PCR tests can cost up to $150 at private laboratories and it's unclear if public clinics in other states will offer free tests to people for travel purposes.
Ms Palaszczuk says the requirement is only temporary, arguing other states such as Western Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory also require negative PCR tests for travellers.

The easiest way to resolve the issue would be for the Commonwealth to offer travellers a temporary Medicare rebate for the tests, she says.

"Greg Hunt can quite easily make it a Medicare rebate. He can do that with the stroke of a pen," Ms Palaszczuk told reporters on Tuesday.

"Let's get this resolved at national cabinet, but it's only a temporary measure. Let me also stress this: this is a temporary measure up until we get to that 90 per cent double-dose.

"Once we get to 90 per cent double dose there is no PCR test requirement."

The latest figures show 85.01 per cent of eligible Queenslanders have had one vaccine dose and 74.07 per cent are fully vaccinated.

The state will accept a text message as proof of a negative PCR test, but Ms Palaszczuk admitted the 72-hour limit would rule out overnight or short trips interstate for most Queenslanders.

"So at the moment going to Sydney for a day or two would be out of the question until we get to that 90 per cent double dose," she said.

In his letter to Ms D'Ath on Monday night, Mr Hunt said he was concerned Queensland wasn't considering accepting rapid antigen tests (RAT) for interstate visitors, nor providing free PCR tests for Queensland residents returning home.

He suggested the Commonwealth was ready to fund testing within Queensland to ensure there would be no costs imposed on people needing a test, including for interstate travel.

"Given there has been no change to these arrangements, it is unclear to me why Queensland would now be suggesting that a different approach should be taken," Mr Hunt said.

"It is difficult to see any reason for this other than Queensland seeking to remove its responsibility to ensure the provision of testing, including bearing 50 per cent of costs, as agreed under the partnership."

Queensland recorded no new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and one in hotel quarantine.

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