This year’s budget claims to be about funding infrastructure and restoring fairness. The most important piece of infrastructure for the future of Australians is the people. The health of every Australian is vital for our country to progress. But almost all of the health measures in the budget are simply partial restorations of funding which has previously been slashed. It would appear this budget is designed simply to move health off the political agenda as much as possible.
Whilst extra funding for mental health and for research in primary health care is welcome, the paltry 3% increase in hospital funding is less than inflation, the Medicare rebate freeze will still remain in part for 3 years, there is no new funding for preventive health, for expansion of Primary Health Care networks to co-ordinate the chaotic health system patients have to negotiate, for dental care, or for the myriad supportive community based programs axed by the 2014 budget’s cut to flexible funding.
Funding for general practice is now becoming increasingly dependent on rents from pathology companies with multiple potential dangers as the Government attempts to reduce the cost of pathology.
Dr Tim Woodruff Dr Con Costa President Vice President
Ph 0401042619 Ph 0418400309
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“The report today that specialists are charging large copayments which inevitably stop patients seeing them is further evidence that governments have little thought for the financial struggle for many patients to access quality health care” said Dr Tim Woodruff, president, Doctors Reform Society. “A second report today from the Grattan Institute show sthe Federal Government could save $445 million yearly if they payed (using our taxes) world market prices for prescriptions. With such savings we could be reducing prescription copayments rather than increasing them.”
“The report card on public hospital performance released by the Australian Medical Association (AMA) yesterday showing a nationwide deterioration in the capacity of those hospitals to care for the 54% of Australians without private health insurance”, said Dr Tim Woodruff, president, Doctors Reform Society. “These are real people with major health problems. Many could be working, increasing Australia’s productivity. Many could be managing to live without the support of their relatives, releasing them to add to Australia’s productivity. They have been forgotten by a parsimonious Federal Government which can easily find extra taxes to subsidise private health insurance but not to pay its share of public hospital funding. These patients’ preventable pain and suffering is ignored.”
“The news of a likely 5% private health insurance hike again this year means another $250 million in taxes gifted to the very profitable private health insurance industry whose leaders are enjoying a 30% plus rise in remuneration over the last few years, said Dr Tim Woodruff, president,” Doctors Reform Society. “It comes as ongoing research (the Household Financial Comfort Report) shows unsurprisingly that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting relatively poorer.”
“Meanwhile the Federal Government’s continues its heartless punishment of Centrelink welfare recipients irrespective of whether they are defrauding or not, leading to completely unnecessary and stressful situations for some of the most vulnerable in the community, some of whom are almost certainly on 3 year public hospital waiting lists, never dreaming of taxpayer subsidised private health insurance.”
In his maiden speech in 2002, the new Health Minister Greg Hunt stated,
‘The next expansion in private health coverage is, I believe, through employer incentives for the inclusion of health care in workplace arrangements’
If anyone doubted the true agenda of the Coalition is to turn our health system into a United States style grossly unfair two tiered health system, this comment makes it clear that he is not a believer in universal health care and a fair go for everyone, but rather that he believes Medicare should be a second rate safety net.
‘The announcement yesterday by Health Minister Ley that the Commonwealth funded Child Dental Benefits Scheme (CDBS) and the Public Adult Dental National Partnership Agreement will both be cut is a kick in the teeth for the hundreds of thousands of Australians who suffer daily both from tooth decay and the various diseases which poor oral health promotes’, said Dr Tim Woodruff, president, Doctors Reform Society.
The announcement ignores the findings of a report into the CDBS authored by the Government’s own Chief Medical Officer which recommended an expansion of the scheme to cover in-patient care for complicated cases and much better promotion of the scheme. Read more
“The decision by the Government’s Department of Human Services to threaten an Australian who uses a variation on the Medicare logo to highlight concerns about the future of Medicare reveals a new low in the Coalition’s approach to Medicare”, said Dr Tim Woodruff, president, Doctors Reform Society. “This Australian citizen’s crime appears to be that he is using the Medicare logo in his efforts to inform the public about the Federal Government’s wish to destroy Medicare as we know it”.
“Meanwhile the Government itself is unapologetic about using the logo in its own election campaign.”
“What does the Government want to hide from the Australian public when it pursues policies to silence voices that disagree with those policies? Does it really want Australians to accept health policies which will take us to an expensive, inefficient, privatised, Americanised system? Why does it wish to suppress alternative voices?”
“We need debate. We need many voices expressing their concerns, their fears, their hopes, and we need to respond. Suppressing public voices will not lead to a more effective, efficient, and equitable health system”
The latest Federal Government announcement that no refugees and asylum seekers arriving by boat will ever be permitted to settle in Australia confirms that it is committed to ignoring the health needs of these human beings who already have life long scars from their experiences which have led them to risk their lives to escape, said Dr Tim Woodruff, president, Doctors Reform Society. This deplorable continued lack of health care and support in detention centres is at the expense of and on behalf of the people of Australia
The well documented health effects of detention itself for people who have not committed any crime is reason to be deeply concerned. But the callous disregard of their ongoing health needs and a commitment by this Government to destroy whatever hope these clearly desperate people have is a reason for all Australians to be ashamed of our Government.
Health requires hope. The Government is destroying hope. It is also breaking the law by not adhering to the Convention on the Rights of the Child which it ratified in 1990. Below is just one item from the Convention which the Government is clearly ignoring in its policies in these detention centres.
Article 36: Children should be protected from any activities that could harm their development
A healthy Australia cannot exist whilst these unhealthy policies continue. We call on the Government to bring all refugees in our care (and they are in our care despite claims to the contrary), to Australia and given the health and social support required for them to live healthy lives. They will make Australia a more healthy place to live.
Dr Tim Woodruff Dr Con Costa
Vice President Vice President
Ph 0401042619 Ph 0418400309