Health cuts to spare patients

Monday, October 22, 2012


The Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association (AHHA) today responded to the funding cuts to the health budget announced today by Treasurer Wayne Swan as part of the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook.

The Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association is the independent peak membership body and advocate for the Australian healthcare system and a national voice for universally accessible, high quality healthcare.

“AHHA recognises that the global economic environment is putting pressure on the Australian economy and that the Government is looking for savings across all portfolio areas,” Ms Prue Power AM, CEO of the AHHA, said today.

“We believe that in this context the measures announced today are appropriate and are unlikely to directly impact upon patient care.

“In particular, we support the changes to the Private Health Insurance Rebate which will reduce the current high growth rate of this subsidy. AHHA supports the important role of the private health sector in the Australian health system, however, we do not believe that the $5 billion (2011/12 figures) spent every year on the rebate is justified.

“By reducing the cost of the rebate, more funding will be available to support other services which deliver better value to the Australian community. In the current fiscal environment we simply cannot afford to keep pouring money into this inefficient scheme.

“In relation to funding cuts for health promotion, AHHA believes that prevention should be a high priority for governments and supports an ongoing investment in evidence-based programs.

We welcome the exemption of anti-smoking campaigns from the funding cuts. Smoking is the leading preventable cause of heart disease, stroke and many forms of cancer. Anti-smoking initiatives in Australia have a proud record of reducing smoking rates to among the lowest in the developed world and it is vital that we maintain funding for these campaigns.

“In relation to the changes to MBS rebates for video-conferencing, we support the quarantining of funding for consumers in rural and remote areas. Videoconferencing is an important part of health care in the bush and it is vital that consumers outside of metro areas continue to receive funding for this important service.

However, we do not believe that consumers in urban areas will be adversely impacted by the requirement to travel to their GP (or other doctor) to receive the rebate. 

“Overall, AHHA believes the Government has taken a prudent approach to savings measures in the health portfolio which will have minimal impact on consumers,” Ms Power said.

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