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ALP Health Policy - preliminary reaction: Beazley's bandaid misses the mark.

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Australian Medical Association Limited



ALP Health Policy - Preliminary Reaction




Labor's health policy released today contains some welcome measures but fails to address the core problems confronting o ur health system, the Federal President of the Australian Medical Association, Dr David Brand, said today.


"Other than maintaining the failed private health insurance incentive scheme, Labor offers no solutions to address a major cause of increased pressure on our public hospitals - declining levels of private health insurance, Dr Brand said. "Unless Labor addresses this problem with realistic solutions, public hospital waiting lists will continue to grow."


"The AMA welcomes the additional commitment to fund the public hospital system - as previously announced - but believes it must be combined with an effective support scheme for private health insurance. Regrettably, Labor has addressed only one side of the problem.


"Despite discussing problems about inadequate rebates in general practice, the policy offers no additional funding. This will disappoint Australia's GPs and their patients.


“We are also deeply disappointed with the level of additional funding for Indigenous health - just $15m a year over three years. A policy of incremental change will yield only incremental results. And given the state of Indigenous health, this is unacceptable.


"The ALP has effectively ignored pleas for greater efforts to curb smoking rates. The AMA has strongly supported the Heart and Cancer Offensive against tobacco which is seeking a $64m a year commitment to reduce smoking - a problem that costs the nation $12.7bn and claims 18,000 lives each year.


“Labor has committed an additional $3m a year for all drug programs. This commitment is grossly inadequate, particularly when the government collects $4.6bn a year in tobacco taxes alone.


"That said, we congratulate Labor for supporting the voluntary rural scholarships for medical students, a proposal put forward by the AMA and the Rural Doctors' Association. We are also very pleased to see a commitment to fund initiatives in men's health, immunisation, mental health, youth health, youth suicide and the treatment of eating disorders. The additional funding for the Rural Incentives Program is also a good move.


"Overall, this package doesn't address the substantive issues. The AMA will make a full assessment of the policy and will issue a detailed response in due course," Dr Brand said.


10 September 1998




Dr David Brand  (0411) 729 097

Rohan Greenland (02) 6270 5477 / (0419) 494 761