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Health Budget 2007: A Budget of downpayments: little steps non giant leaps.



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Australian Medical Association Limited ABN 37 008 426 793

42 Macquarie Street, Barton ACT 2600: PO Box 6090, Kingston ACT 2604 Telephone: (02) 6270 5400 Facsimile (02) 6270 5499 Website : http://www.ama.com.au/

HEALTH BUDGET 2007 - A BUDGET OF DOWNPAYMENTS: LITTLE STEPS NOT GIANT LEAPS

AMA Vice President Dr Choong-Siew Yong said tonight that the Government had identified key areas for health funding, but the funding in most cases was inadequate for long-term impact.

Dr Yong said new funding for Indigenous health, aged care, combating obesity, rural health, dental care, chronic disease, and after-hours GP services, was welcome - but well short of what is needed to make a real difference.

“The priorities are right but the funding falls short,” Dr Yong said.

“At a time of unprecedented national and Budget prosperity - as the Government proclaims - much more could have been done, especially in Indigenous health.

“Nevertheless, the Government must be given credit for acknowledging the correct areas of need.

“The AMA will push for top-up funding in key areas ahead of the Federal Election expected later this year,” Dr Yong said.

Despite the view that funding could have been significantly greater, the AMA welcomes the following health initiatives in this Budget:

• Approximately $120 million over four years for Indigenous health, including $38 million for family-centred primary health care. The AMA sought $460 million each year. • Aged care capital expenditure is a step in the right direction but incentives to increase

GP care in aged care facilities are inadequate • The National Nutrition Survey is welcome, but should have been accompanied by a National Nutrition Centre for ongoing management of the survey • Breastfeeding education and support • Additional $291.3 million over four years to support chronic and complex care by

consultant physicians is welcome but well short of the $800 million the AMA estimated is needed • Continuation of rural retention programs is a step in the right direction, but more is needed for rural doctor recruitment and retention

• Increased fees for after-hours GP visits are good, but do not commence until November 2008 • The dental care package is needed and overdue and it is pleasing that it is based on GP referral. It is almost a 10-fold increase in funding • Chlamydia screening • Update of child nutrition guidelines is welcome, but adult guidelines should also be

updated • Positive measures to combat illicit drug use.

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Dr Yong said overall, new health funding is significant but more could have been done to help the most disadvantaged.

“While the Government has once again acknowledged the health plight of Indigenous Australians, it has not delivered the necessary funding to make up for decades of neglect,” Dr Yong said.

The AMA will make a more detailed response later in the week.

8 May 2007

CONTACT: John Flannery 02 6270 5477 / 0419 494 761 Kylie Walker 02 6270 5471 / 0405 229 152