Health Budget delivers some gains but fails to address key issues

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

 

The AHHA acknowledges the balanced approach taken by the Government in this year’s Health Budget given the difficult fiscal environment. 

The Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association represents Australia’s largest group of health care providers in public hospitals, community and primary health sectors and advocates for universal high quality healthcare to benefit the whole community.

The Association welcomes the investment in the suite of initiatives comprising the new cancer package – World Leading Cancer Care - and the further investment in mental health.

However, the Government has failed to address some of the most important issues facing the Australian people.

The Gillard Government has claimed credit for reduced waiting times in emergency departments arising from its investment in sub-acute services.  However with no ongoing commitment to the sub-acute programs the gains achieved will quickly evaporate and pressure will again be directed back onto acute hospitals leading to longer waiting times and poorer outcomes.

The Government has overlooked the opportunity to make a significant commitment to addressing the social determinants of health. The Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs recently recommended that the Government commit to addressing the social determinants of health and give consideration of the social determinants of health in all relevant policy development activities. This Budget has done nothing to implement those recommendations which are critical to addressing the inequities that exist in health outcomes.

It is extremely disappointing that the Budget includes savings measures that will result in higher out-of-pocket costs for medical services, such as delaying Medicare rebate increases and tightening criteria for the Medicare safety-net.  Australians already face higher out of pocket costs when accessing health care than people in most comparable countries and these measures may widen the disparity.  Despite current high rates of bulk-billing, this will adversely impact on people in areas with poor access to bulk-billed services, particularly those in rural and remote areas who already disadvantaged.

For more information/comment: Ms Prue Power, CEO AHHA, 0417 419 857

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