Health and aged care spending an investment in a nation’s recovery

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

‘Tonight’s Commonwealth Budget makes major commitments in health and aged care, much needed to address the major challenges Australia has confronted during the COVID-19 pandemic - but there are many areas of significant need where more effort is required’, says Alison Verhoeven, Chief Executive, Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA).

‘What we have learned during 2020 is that a strong public sector—in our hospitals, primary care and aged care —is critical to being able to respond to effectively to these challenges.

‘It is disappointing that there is only a limited focus on strengthening preventive and primary health care.

‘An Australian Centre for Disease Control could have positioned Australia to better deal with future pandemic challenges.

‘While some new funding for rural primary health care is welcome, there is a missed opportunity to bring this more quickly to scale.

‘Meanwhile more than $17 million has been committed to a website reporting specialist fees which to date has generated little consumer interest or made any impact on improving affordability.

‘Actuarial reviews of private health insurance arrangements will do little to address the immediate pain felt by policy holders whose premiums continue to rise while value continues to fall.

‘Providing the additional funding needed to ensure our acute system can respond to the increased health demands as a result of the pandemic, as per earlier announcements, is a critical measure both to respond to the pandemic and to allow “business as usual” services to continue to be delivered effectively.

‘Increased funding for mental health services will contribute to addressing both increased demand as a result of the pandemic and the long-standing issues relating to access to services. We look forward to a more detailed response to the issues identified by the Productivity Commission in its interim report.

‘Investing in aged care is an important and necessary response given the significant failures identified through the Royal Commission and during the pandemic. We welcome the commitment to fund 23,000 additional home care packages, and to strengthen palliative care and the aged care workforce.

‘There will be much more work to be done in aged care over coming months and years to ensure that the shocking experiences that some families and residents have endured, and the failures in quality, are fully addressed.

‘Health and medical research investment, like the additional funding for services, is an investment in our nation’s recovery’, says Ms Verhoeven.

‘Under-investment for too many years has weakened our health and aged care system. Tonight’s funding is a modest start towards reversing some of the poor decisions of the past.’

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association is the national peak body for public and not-for-profit hospitals, Primary Health Networks, and community and primary healthcare services.

Media contact: Alison Verhoeven, AHHA Chief Executive, 0403 282 501