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03 Apr 2019

Health Minister Greg Hunt has described the Health Budget as a “comprehensive, patient-focused investment” with a record $104 billion in 2019-20 and a $435 billion spend over the next four years.

But the Opposition says the Budget is “too little, too late” with “reheated announcements” that do not make up for years of inaction.

Mr Hunt said the Budget guarantees Medicare, makes a range of life-saving medicines and services more accessible and affordable, reduces out-of-pocket costs, strengthens primary care and mental health and invests in breakthrough medical research.

“The Budget consolidates and continues our health reform agenda. It reinforces the four pillars of our long term national health plan – guaranteeing Medicare and improving access to medicines, supporting our hospitals, prioritising mental health and preventive health and investing in health and medical research,” the Minister said.

“We are addressing community need through a range of investments under our $1.25 billion landmark Community Health and Hospitals Program (CHHP) to keep people healthy and out of hospital. We are acting on aged care reform. Improvements to accessibility, quality and safety continue apace with a further investment of $7 billion since the last Budget.”

Shadow Health Minister Catherine King, however, said with this Budget, Prime Minister Scott Morrison had locked in cuts to hospitals that he had written into previous Budgets as Treasurer.

“This was Morrison’s last chance to fully reverse his savage hospital cuts – and he failed,” Ms King said.

“Budgets are about priorities. For six years, the Liberals have prioritised an $80 billion tax handout for the top end of town over Medicare, schools, hospitals…

“Patients will suffer because of these cuts as they are confronted with longer emergency department and elective surgery waiting times, or are forced to travel far from home for treatment.”

But Mr Hunt said the Government had increased funding for public hospitals by $5 billion, up from $13.3 billion in 2012–13, to $21.7 billion in 2018–19, to $26.2 billion in 2022–23.

On other Health Budget initiatives, the Minister said the Government was committed to reducing out-of-pocket costs and supports all the recommendations of, and will implement the first stage of its response to, the report of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Out-of-Pocket Costs.

And, he said, the Government was delivering a $1.1 billion ‘Strengthening Primary Care’ package, building on the $512 million package in the 2018–19 MYEFO, to support Australia’s doctors and specialists to deliver improved access and outcomes for patients.

Published: 03 Apr 2019