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Health budget reflects the economic times

In its budget the Federal Government has done the right thing by sparing health from broad funding cuts to provide a budget for tough economic times and to fund a budget surplus. Health has generally been sheltered from the budget cuts. It means that health costs should not add further pressure to the cost of living for Australian families.

09 May 2012

In its budget the Federal Government has done the right thing by sparing health from broad funding cuts to provide a budget for tough economic times and to fund a budget surplus.

Health has generally been sheltered from the budget cuts. It means that health costs should not add further pressure to the cost of living for Australian families.

The AMA welcomes several initiatives in the budget, including new funding for aged care, bowel cancer screening, dental services, health infrastructure, and electronic health initiatives.

The changes to the Extended Medicare Safety Net (EMSN) appear to have been based on clinical and economic evidence and do not involve services or procedures that are regularly required by families.

But we have strong objections to changes to Practice Incentive Payments (PIP).

The General Practice Immunisation Incentive has ceased. This has serious public health implications.

And GPs will only be eligible for the electronic PIP if they participate in the personally controlled electronic health record program (PCEHR). We will challenge this decision. This will be a roadblock to the system working properly.

We also see problems with the cessation of Local Lead Clinician Groups. This may have a downside for the better management of hospitals.

More broadly, we support funding for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and key health services for Indigenous Australians under the Stronger Futures program.

However, we remain concerned about the lack of medical care programs or funding in the Government’s aged care package, and the lack of incentives for doctors to embrace the PCEHR.

With the budget returning to surplus, we encourage the Government to look to the future by bringing forward investments in medical research and medical training.

As always, there may be devil in the detail, so we will be looking at the fine print over coming days.


Published: 09 May 2012