The 2019-20 Federal Budget on 2 April provides the Government with the ideal opportunity to unveil the details of its long-term vision for the Australian health system.
With the Federal election expected in May, there is plenty of time for the Government to roll out a series of fully-funded policies designed to meet the growing health care demands of a growing and ageing population.
The conditions are ripe for a new round of significant and meaningful health reforms, underpinned by secure, stable, and adequate long-term funding, to ensure the best possible health outcomes for the Australian population.
The 2019 Budget and the election come as the Government finalises significant reviews, most notably the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) Review and the implementation of the review of the private health insurance (PHI) sector.
The AMA and the medical profession will watch closely to see which MBS Review recommendations become Government policy. It has been our view from the start that the MBS Review must not be a cost-saving exercise – it needs to be a credible clinical process to produce a strong contemporary MBS.
The PHI reforms – the Gold, Silver, Bronze, and Basic policies - are already being introduced. We are yet to see how they will be accepted by the public and the health professions.
At the same time, the Government will be navigating the implementation of vital public hospital funding negotiations with the States and Territories via the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) processes. The AMA is adamant that more funding is needed to ensure hospital capacity to meet rapidly growing patient demand. We also believe that all governments – Commonwealth, State, and Territory – need to commit their fair share, and work cooperatively to build efficiencies in the system.
The Government, led by Health Minister Greg Hunt, has shown a strong commitment to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), and we expect this ongoing commitment to be reflected in the Budget.
The Aged Care Royal Commission will have impacts across the health system, which the next Government will have to manage.
The key to successful health reform is keeping all the important and disparate sections of the health system linked – and the key to keeping everything working to a common goal is general practice and the local GP