All about savings: piecemeal health program support; cuts disguised as strategy

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) says tonight’s Budget is a disappointing result for the health sector. Nearly fifty measures, including some small investments and many cuts, have been disguised as strategy.

“The confirmation of an additional $2.9 billion over three years in public hospital funding is welcome, though this returns less than half of the expected funding that was initially removed by the Government in the 2014 Budget. The AHHA strongly supports the ongoing commitment to activity-based funding, particularly given the National Health Performance Authority’s recent report has shown such funding improves hospital efficiency,” AHHA Chief Executive Alison Verhoeven said. “However, the Government must continue to plan not just for the next electoral cycle, but with a strategic vision for the future of Australian health.

“Action is needed to align the interfaces between health, aged care and disability services to help coordinate patient care. The limited arrangements proposed for Health Care Homes will only partly serve to address this.

“Primary Health Networks require appropriate and long-term funding to carry out their core functions, with flexible funding to meet community needs. Under-resourcing organisations with ever-increasing responsibilities will compromise their ability to achieve their full potential and to deliver on the government’s health policy objectives.

“Despite much commentary from the Health Minister about the need for private health insurance reforms, the can has been kicked down the road tonight, with a paltry investment in yet another review committee.  And the promised clean up of the Medicare Benefits Schedule has amounted only to minimal savings and some attention to achieving better compliance by providers.

“The Child and Adult Public Dental Scheme is a welcome indication of support for dental care as part of the Australian health system. However, the funding is not sufficient to underpin equitable access to care.

“The increased tobacco tax is a sensible move, and will assist in further reducing smoking. It is pleasing that both major parties are now on board with this public health measure.

“Reform to the healthcare and related systems must be considered as part of a co-ordinated approach to the delivery of care across the primary, acute, aged and disability care sectors. What Australians have been delivered tonight is a hotch potch of spending and cuts, with no clear vision,” says Alison Verhoeven.

Media enquiries:
Alison Verhoeven
Chief Executive, The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association
0403 282 501