AMA says importance of health must be reflected in the budget

30 April, 2009

The AMA has urged government to ensure the importance Australians place on health is reflected in the budget process.

AMA President, Dr Rosanna Capolingua, said Australians consistently rank health as an issue that is of paramount concern.

“But we’ve seen little recent evidence that government understands this,” Dr Capolingua said.

“First health was inexplicably excluded from the stimulus packages, ignoring the fact that there is no better national infrastructure or productivity investment than health.

“Now all the budget speculation appears to be around ripping money out of health. The government is refusing to confirm promises will be kept on fundamental health spending such as the Medicare safety net and the 30 % private health insurance rebate.

“Both of these measures are central to the provision of healthcare in Australia today.

“Australian working families are relying on the Medicare safety net more than ever. When times are tough, and you are sick, you need the government to back you up so that you or your family can see the doctor when you need to. Cutting the net away could see cancer patients no longer able to afford treatment, pushing them onto public waiting lists that are already too long. Couples will be forced to abandon dreams of starting a family under IVF.

“Our public hospitals are already under great stress and facing even greater demand. Forcing people out of private health by breaking the promise on rebates would put even more pressure on the public system.

“A government that can afford to spend $60 billion in a stimulus package can afford to keep its promises on safety net and the 30% rebate,” Dr Capolingua said.

“Doctors and patients demand more than hollow promises. Health must be recognised as the national priority it is – and the budget needs to reflect this.”