Spectre of 2014 Budget overshadows modest measures in 2015 Health Budget
AMA President, Associate Professor Brian Owler, said this week that the modest positive measures in the 2015 Health Budget failed to overcome the lingering profound negative effects of the 2014 Budget.
“The GP co-payment may be gone, but the health system is still struggling with the impact of the freeze on Medicare patient rebates,” A Prof Owler said.
The Budget announced the return of after-hours funding to the Practice Incentive Program (PIP) effective 1 July 2015, something the AMA has been lobbying strongly for. Other GP related measures in the Budget include: confirmation of the previously announced $6 incentive to GPs to administer catch-up vaccinations for children; the scrapping of the healthy kids check from the MBS Health Assessment items, a renewed focus on e-health; and reform of the General Practice Rural Incentives Programme, including a move to a new rural classification system, the Modified Monash Model.
The Budget also announced $962.8m in savings that will be achieved through the ‘rationalisation’ of health programs – including health portfolio flexible funds. There is little detail of what programs will be targeted although the 16 flexible funds that currently exist cross a range of areas including substance abuse, practice incentives for general practice, outreach funds for rural health, health workforce, and funds for tackling chronic disease among Indigenous patients. The AMA is seeking more information on the extent to which these cuts may impact on general practice.