Date Published: 13 May 2009
Health budget fails those most in need
The AMA says the most alarming element of last night’s budget is the total absence of health support measures for the unemployed.
AMA President, Dr Rosanna Capolingua, said the budget predicted one million Australians would be out of work, but made no provision for caring for their health needs.
“These people are vulnerable. Unemployment has a huge impact on health. Stress levels rise dramatically, people cut corners on healthy living and it all takes a physical toll. The emotional impact can be even greater, often leading to debilitating mental health issues, including depression.
Without proper care these health issues can destroy individuals and families.
These people are in real and immediate need of medical care. However, the Government has made no provision for extra public hospital services or support for GPs in this budget.
Public hospitals will take the brunt as job losses force families to drop private health cover. At least another half a million Australians will be relying on our already overburdened public hospitals.
Government will also look to GPs to continue to subsidise healthcare through bulk billing – effectively providing a half price service.
Doctors are looking to Government to help ensure the most disadvantaged patients can continue to be bulk billed, particularly in the hard times ahead.
An immediate measure would be to properly fund patient care through Medicare rebates that have fallen hopelessly behind the cost of delivering the service.
The absence of measures designed to help these Australians at a time when they are most in need is a sad outcome with long-term, potentially tragic consequences.”