Investing in the strengths of the health system
All the signs indicate that the Federal Budget to be handed down in May this year will be frugal across the board, with health being no exception. Economic circumstances around the globe are not strong and the Government will be keen to shore up the Australian economy for what many predict could be hard times ahead.
All the signs indicate that the Federal Budget to be handed down in May this year will be frugal across the board, with health being no exception.
Economic circumstances around the globe are not strong and the Government will be keen to shore up the Australian economy for what many predict could be hard times ahead.
On top of this, the days of ‘big bang’ health reform are behind us for now. Minority Government at the Federal level and the expected further changing of the guard to Coalition governments at the State level mean that big changes in the way that health services are financed and delivered are now almost impossible to achieve. The ‘once in a generation’ opportunity has passed.
It is important, though, that there is no slippage in the positive reforms that have been reached, and that we can adjust those reforms and policies that have not quite hit the mark.
The AMA wanted more from the COAG Agreement but we acknowledge the significant extra funding from the Commonwealth and the move to activity based funding that has been promised.
The single funding pool is a step in the right direction and there is now greater transparency in the system. The States are now unable to pass the blame for the performance or non-performance of their hospitals.
It is in the primary care area, however, where we seek more consultation and cooperation from the Government.
We note that the Medicare Locals are part of the landscape but we do not accept that the governance model has to stay the same. There must be strong GP leadership and management of Medicare Locals.
The Government must revisit the GP Super Clinics program. We have no problem with the concept where they meet genuine community need, but we have serious concerns in many locations. We cannot support them where they compete with existing GPs delivering exactly the same service.
The AMA believes the money would be better spent on existing general practices that are already committed to their communities through the oversubscribed infrastructure grants program.
We continue to battle for a reversal of cuts to the Better Access program for GP mental health services.
The 2012-13 Federal Budget must ensure that the important pillars of health care – the parts of the health system that work well and which patients and communities rely on – are recognised and funded accordingly.
For the AMA, general practice, public hospitals, and medical training and workforce are at the top of the list.
When people are sick or injured or need ongoing quality health advice, they want to see a GP. When they have been involved in an accident or require surgery, they want the comfort of knowing that quality professional care is available at a properly staffed and resourced hospital. Australia needs both a strong private sector and a well-funded public sector to deliver effective health care.
We need to provide the right care at the right time in the right place. This means that services for aged care, mental health, and chronic disease need appropriate funding and well-targeted policies.
People need to be encouraged to do more about their own health and wellbeing, particularly in regards to obesity, smoking, and alcohol. Preventive health programs must be supported.
The AMA is also urging the Government for action in the key areas of Indigenous Health, Climate Change and Health, Health and Medical Research, and changes to the proposed model for an electronic health record.
The AMA Budget Submission proposes practical and affordable policies that would deliver tangible benefits to patients and local communities around Australia.
We will be urging the Government to give this Submission serious consideration and we look forward to meaningful engagement and consultation with the Government on health funding and health policy development and implementation.
Published: 07 Feb 2012