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Record Spending Slowdown Shows Health Not Budget Problem

23 Sep 2014

AMA President Associate Professor Brian Owler has called on the Federal Government to immediately drop plans to slash $5 from the Medicare rebate following the release of figures showing claims that health spending is growing unsustainably are baseless.

“The Abbott Government has justified its extreme health Budget measures on the basis that health spending is out of control. Clearly it is not,” A/Prof Owler said.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has released analysis showing total national spending on health grew by a record low 1.5 per cent in real terms in 2012-13, underpinned by a big 2.4 per cent fall in Federal Government funding. Health’s share of the Commonwealth Budget has fallen in the last seven years from more than 18 per cent to 16.1 per cent.

“These numbers clearly demonstrate that there are simply no grounds for taking even more money out of health,” A/Prof Owler said.
 
The figures back the strong stand taken by the AMA against the Government’s $7 co-payment proposal and its plans to slice $5 from already-inadequate Medicare rebates for GP, pathology and diagnostic imaging services, and to rip billions out of public hospital funding.
 
“Australia has one of the best-performing and most cost-effective health systems in the world, and the Government is putting that at risk with its ill-considered and unjustified Budget cuts.”
 
An international comparison found that 9.67 per cent of gross domestic product was spent on health in 2012-13, close to the average among advanced economies, while the average Australian’s life expectancy is among the highest in the world.
 
A/Prof Owler said that, far from being out of control, spending on health – particularly primary care - was remarkably cost-effective.
 
“The Government should be investing in primary care to keep people healthy and out of hospital.
 
“It’s time for the Government to scrap the $5 cut to the Medicare rebate and take a closer look at the AMA’s plan for a co-payment that protects the young and vulnerable, supports quality GP care and provides for a contribution from those able to afford it.”
 

 


23 September 2014

CONTACT:        Odette Visser                      02 6270 5464 / 0427 209 753

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Published: 23 Sep 2014