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Statement by RACGP President, Dr Paul Hemming, on the 2002-03 Health Budget.



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Statement by RACGP President, Dr Paul Hemming, on the 2002-03 Health Budget

14th May

We welcome the fact that the Commonwealth has adopted some of the measures proposed by the College in its Budget Submission this year, namely:

The proposal to help GPs prescribe medicines in keeping with evidence-based quality prescribing by being encouraged to use clinical software that contains full information on the true cost to both the consumer and the taxpayer; and

●

The program to provide information on a quarterly basis to doctors on evidence-based prescribing of a new and revised PBS listed medicines. ●

While welcoming these initiatives, overall the health budget is only taking a few tentative steps forward toward a sustainable health system.

The College has concerns about the impact of the health budget in the long term and that the cost saving to the Commonwealth in this budget will be shifted to other areas of the health care system such as the states and the private health industry.

This will be a result of the increase in co payments as has been evidenced by international research. [ *]

The College urges the Minister for Health to commission a study that demonstrates that the Government’s policy on increased co-payments does

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not further disadvantage those most vulnerable in the community.

In addition it is clear that some of the measures in this Budget will mean GPs will have to spend more time during patient visits navigating the health system rather than helping patients manage their health.

For example this will be apparent when they have to explain the use of generic drugs to their patients.

That said we welcome the investment in funds for outer urban GPs and the other policy commitments made during the last election.

We also support the moves on pharmacy fraud, doctor shopping and data analysis.

In general we also give a tick to the initiatives to Keep Australians Healthy, Tackling Drugs, increased access to Medicare claims through pharmacies as well as some of the other measures announced.

This is not a budget of large ideas; rather it appears to the College that it is incremental in nature.

It is health budget that seems to be predicated on cost containment.

*Council of the Ageing, Jan Donovan, April 2002.

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