LABOR is refusing to commit to the $1 billion Medicare Safety Net that helps 1.5 million pregnant women and chronically ill patients pay their health bills. The ALP pledged to abolish the safety net scheme at the last federal election. Opposition health spokeswoman Nicola Roxon three times refused to answer when asked by The Daily Telegraph whether her party would now maintain the scheme. "It's, along with a number of other things under consideration and will be, I'm sure, dealt with closer to the election," Ms Roxon said. "Certainly there will be further announcements made between now and the election." In 2004 Labor planned to scrap the safety net and use the $1.3 billion savings to fund its Medicare Gold policy that would have provided free hospital care for the over-75s. Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd has yet to detail how he would fund last week's pledge to increase hospital funding by $2 billion but he said Labor had identified $3 billion in savings to pay for its policies so far. Scrapping or capping the safety net would be one way of helping pay for the hospitals promise. The Medicare Safety Net was introduced by the Howard Government in 2004 to help families cope with large out-of-pocket medical expenses. Once families spend more than $500 a year out of their own pocket on health costs Medicare will pay 80 per cent of their medical bills.