AMA says budget will do nothing to satisfy vital health needs

14 May, 2009

The AMA says tonight’s budget does nothing to provide Australians with confidence that their health needs will be met in the face of the recession. There is nothing to cushion Australians from the ravages of the recession.

AMA President, Dr Rosanna Capolingua, said the budget will mean many Australians will pay more for health adding to their anxiety when they are already stressed about job security and the future.

“More detailed analysis is needed, but one thing is clear: the government’s broken promises and lack of understanding will mean sick Australians will wait longer or pay more for health.

“Estimates are that we will have one million people unemployed and we fear the ravages of this will hit the health system harder than the government realises.  Many of these Australians will be forced to rely on our crumbling public health system. They will need help with a broad range of health issues including stress related illness and mental health.”

Dr Capolingua said the AMA will examine the budget more closely to see if health funding has been maintained as a proportion of total government outlays.

“But my first impression is that it has not.

“Changes to the 30% Private Health Insurance Rebate mean many Australian singles and families will pay a lot more for health insurance, and if you don’t keep your private health insurance you’ll be slugged with an increased Medicare Levy surcharge. They get you both ways.

“Changes to the Medicare Safety Net will hit couples having babies. We’re particularly worried about anyone relying on IVF to have children. This measure could make IVF simply unaffordable to all but the most well off.

“We needed infrastructure spending on health, we needed to boost our capacity to help people struggling with the health impacts of hard times. What we got was broken promises, recycled funding, and a hole in health that the next generation will have to fix.

“Our patients will have difficulty understanding how a government that can spend $52 billion on stimulus packages can’t afford to even maintain the status quo health let alone provide the additional support needed in time of recession.

 “This is a sad day for the health of all Australians.”