Health care in Australia can be explained by the mutually-ambivalent attitude of doctors, insurance companies and governments. Bob Browning looks back - and forward.

Health care remains in a precarious position. The quality and availability of medical services hangs on the relationship between government and the medical profession. For nearly three decades now, this crucial relationship has been a volatile mixture of interdependence and conflict, co-operation and resistance, progress and regression. Right now, the Australian Medical Association is locked in a bitter internal struggle over its federal executive's dealings with the federal government.

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