AMA releases Key Health Issues for the 2016 Federal Election

17 May, 2016

The AMA recently released Key Health Issues for the 2016 Federal Election - a summary of the major health issues that the AMA considers must be addressed by the major parties during the election campaign and into the next term of Government, whichever party wins.

AMA President, Professor Brian Owler, said on 12 May 2016 that health policy will be at the core of the 2016 Federal Election.

"The AMA is today highlighting the issues we consider will be of greatest benefit to the health system, the medical profession, the community, and patients," Professor Owler said.

"The next Government must significantly invest in the health of the Australian people. Investment in health is the best investment that governments can make.

"We must also protect and support the fundamentals of the health system.

"The two major pillars of the system that mean most to the Australian people are quality primary health care services, led by general practice, and well-resourced public hospitals.

"General practice and public hospitals are the priority health issues for this election.

"The AMA is calling on the major parties to lift the freeze on the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) patient rebate.

"Introduced initially by the previous Labor Government in 2013, the freeze was extended until 2020 by the Coalition Government in the recent Budget.

"The freeze means that patients will pay more for their health care. It also affects the viability of medical practices.

"Bulk billing incentives for pathology and diagnostic imaging services must also be restored. These cuts are forcing more costs on to patients.

"We need substantial new funding for public hospitals. The Government provided $2.9 billion in new funding in the Budget, but this is well short of what is needed for the long term.

"We must build capacity in our public hospitals. Funding must be better targeted, patient-focused, and clinician-led.

"The AMA is also calling for leadership and effective policy from the major parties on Indigenous health, medical workforce and training, chronic disease management, and a range of important public health measures.

"Elections are about choices. The type of health system we want is one of those crucial decisions.

"The AMA is today offering wide-ranging policies that build on what works.

"We offer policies that come from the experience of doctors who are at the coalface of the system – the doctors who know how to make the system work best for patients.

"The AMA urges all political parties to engage in a competitive and constructive health policy debate ahead of the election on 2 July," Professor Owler said.

AMA Key Health Issues for the 2016 Federal Election covers:

  • Medicare Benefits Schedule Indexation Freeze;
  • Public Hospitals;
  • Removal of Pathology and Diagnostic Imaging Bulk Billing Incentives;
  • Medical Workforce and Training;
  • Tackling Chronic Disease;
  • Indigenous Health;
  • Rural GP Infrastructure Grants;
  • Prevention;
  • Tobacco; and
  • Physical Activity.

The AMA will release a separate Rural Health Plan, responding to the unique health needs of people in rural and regional Australia, later in the election campaign.
View the Key Health Issues for the 2016 Federal Election (PDF)