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Budget 2015: Budget contains a number of positive initiatives for health but concern remains about public hospital funding and Medicare indexation

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12 May 2015

Budget contains a number of positive initiatives for health but concern remains about public hospital funding and Medicare indexation

Catholic Health Australia Chief Executive Officer, Mrs Suzanne Greenwood, noting the very tight fiscal environment currently facing the Government, welcomed a number of announcements contained in the health portfolio.

The Government’s decision to inject $485m over four years into a revamped and opt-out electronic medical record as recommended by the review conducted by Richard Royle provides an opportunity for patients to be more empowered in managing their health care needs. It will also ensure that health information is more accurately transmitted between a patient’s GP, specialists, and hospitals and should result in better management of complex and chronic medical conditions which will help consumers and result in savings for taxpayers.

CHA welcomes the listing of a number of new drugs on the PBS to help Australians beat melanoma, breast cancer and blindness. It is important that these listings are paid for in a way that does not reduce access to necessary medication by those who are the sickest and most vulnerable.

We are pleased that the government remains committed to the Medical Research Future Fund - although we have questions about the way it will be funded.

CHA does however remain concerned that the cuts to public hospital funding announced in last year’s Budget that will take place from 2017-18 are still proceeding. There are also significant cuts to the indexation of child dental benefits. We further note that the continuing freeze on the indexation of Medicare rebates will inevitably lead to increased out of pocket costs.

We recognise that the Prime Minister and the Premiers will be meeting in July to discuss the Federation, tax reform and health and education funding. “I hope that the Federal and State Governments will be able to reach an understanding that will ensure that public hospitals, including those in the Catholic sector as well as community, Indigenous and dental health programmes, will continue to be adequately resourced to be able to serve the needs of the most disadvantaged in our communities”, Mrs Greenwood added.

“Catholic Health Australia members also look forward to the Government’s response to the recently released National Mental Health Review”.

Media contact: Suzanne Greenwood, CEO 0488 020 244

CONTACT: Suzanne Greenwood mobile: 0488 020 244 CHA represents the largest single grouping of non-government health, aged and community care services in Australia.