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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

Federal Budget neglects to address healthcare affordability challenges faced by consumers

Health Industry Hub | May 14, 2024 |

Pharma News: The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has expressed disappointment in the Federal Budget, stating it offers little relief to Australians facing challenges in accessing essential healthcare and fails to address the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins said the government has dropped the ball in its commitment to strengthen Medicare and reduce out-of-pocket costs for patients.

“This budget has dropped the ball for Australians struggling to afford essential healthcare, and it’s a huge disappointment for GPs, practice teams, and our patients. The government took the first step to repair decades of devastating underfunding of Medicare and general practice care last year – now this work will stall.

“Australians are already putting off essential care due to rising costs. This Budget won’t help, so out-of-pocket fees will increase. It will mean a sicker nation and more pressure on hospitals, which will cost the government much more,” Dr Higgins stated.

Of particular concern is the lack of support for rural and regional patients, as well as those with chronic conditions, areas where the need for assistance is most pressing. Dr Higgins criticised the government’s priorities, stating that they are not aligned with effectively addressing the shortcomings of the health system.

“Australians will be disappointed that Treasurer Jim Chalmers hasn’t seen the value in increasing Medicare rebates as a cost-of-living relief measure. The Medicare rebate belongs to patients – it’s the amount the government pays to subsidise their healthcare. This Budget says the government isn’t interested in ensuring the subsidies for healthcare for Australians are anywhere close to the real-life costs of providing that care,” emphasised Dr Higgins.

She underscored the essential role of general practitioners in providing quality care and highlighted the importance of investing in training programs to address the growing demand for GP services, particularly in light of Australia’s aging population and increasing rates of chronic disease and mental illness.

“Urgent care clinics are not value for money. They are an inefficient use of limited health resources that will take years to roll out. They will disrupt the care people receive from their usual GP and redirect the limited GP workforce from regular practices where they are needed – worsening the workforce shortage,” Dr Higgins explained.

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