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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

‘I don’t quite see the benefits to me’: Budget misses the mark on bold health reforms

Health Industry Hub | May 15, 2024 |

The Federal Budget for the year stands as a placeholder in what could have been a landmark year for health reforms, with the Consumers Health Forum of Australia (CHF) recognising some progress made in healthcare sectors but highlighting missed opportunities to deliver comprehensive, affordable, and accessible healthcare.

The Australian Medical Association, Medicines Australia, Catholic Health Australia and the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association have also expressed disappointment with the lack of bold health reforms in the Federal Budget.

Ricki, a consumer managing complex health conditions, voiced concerns, saying “While the Budget provides some rental support, it still forces me to make a tough decision between paying my rent and adequately managing my healthcare needs. I live with complex health needs and every dollar counts for me.”

While the CHF welcomed the freezing of the PBS indexation, noting a five-year freeze for pensioners and healthcare card holders, with an additional 12-month freeze for others, the consumer advocacy body remained cautious on the announcement of 29 additional Medicare Urgent Care Clinics, highlighting that these clinics are not the sole solution to improving primary care access.

Dr Elizabeth Deveny, CEO of CHF, stated “What we have heard anecdotally is that some consumers are having trouble accessing the care they need at these clinics and some clinics are reverting to a bookings system, which does away with the walk-in nature.”

Also, while some initiatives aim to enhance mental health care access, CHF stressed the need for further measures to reduce the cost of seeing a psychologist.

“Due to chronic underfunding of Medicare and Better Access, out-of-pocket expenses are at an all-time high. Financial barriers to accessing mental healthcare were the number one barrier identified in the Better Access evaluation, and this Budget does nothing to address this,” said a spokesperson from the Australian Association of Psychologists.

Ella, a mother of three, appreciated the Budget’s focus on women’s health but felt it falls short of making a tangible difference.

She remarked “Overall, I feel that the Budget just doesn’t do enough to make a real, tangible difference for women. I’m a mum of three kids, often struggling to get by, and I don’t quite see the benefits to me in this Budget.”

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