Sunday, May 06, 2012

Budget Speculation Is Now Rife - What Do We Know About Health and E-Health?

The following appeared today.

Budget drills deep to shorten dental queues

May 6, 2012
An injection of more than $500 million into the dental system to provide treatment for 400,000 people on the waiting list will be one of the main measures in Tuesday's budget.
And Prime Minister Julia Gillard will announce today that parents will receive up to $820 for every child at high school and $410 for each child in primary school to help with education costs under a new means-tested bonus in the budget.
Ms Gillard has decided to axe the education tax rebate and replace it with direct cash payments, after more than 600,000 eligible families failed to claim $400 million in rebates in 2010/11.
In line with many of the government's other budget plans, $290 million has been offset from other health programs for the dental scheme, leaving $225 million as new money to be spent over the next four years.
This shows the lengths to which the government has gone to fund initiatives while taking the budget from a $40 billion deficit to a $1.5 billion surplus.
The Minister for Health, Tanya Plibersek, said the package delivered hope to those ''who have waited too long on public dental lists. It will lay the foundation for a new way of providing dental services that will ensure those most in need will get care when and where they need it.''
The core of the announcement is $345.9 million for dental services for the 400,000 people - most of them concession card holders - who are waiting for care in the public system.
More details here:
This announcement follows the announcement a few weeks ago (before Slipper and Thomson got really out of hand) of a large aged care package:

More Choice, Easier Access and Better Care for Older Australians

Under landmark changes to the aged care system, more people will get to keep their home, and more people will get to stay in their home as they receive aged care.
Under landmark changes to the aged care system, more people will get to keep their home, and more people will get to stay in their home as they receive aged care.

Joint Release

The Hon Julia Gillard MP
Prime Minister of Australia

The Hon Mark Butler MP
Minister for Social Inclusion,
Minister for Mental Health and Ageing

20 April 2012
Under landmark changes to the aged care system, more people will get to keep their home, and more people will get to stay in their home as they receive aged care.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard and the Minister for Ageing, Mark Butler, today announced a 10-year plan to reshape aged care, beginning 1 July 2012.
The Gillard Labor Government will deliver the $3.7 billion Living Longer Living Better plan to deliver more choice, easier access and better care for older Australians and their families.
To make it easier for older Australians to stay in their home while they receive care, we will:
  • Increase the number of Home Care Packages- from 59,876 to almost 100,000 (99,669).
  • Provide tailored care packages to people receiving home care, and new funding for dementia care.
  • Cap costs, so that full pensioners pay no more than the basic fee.
Vastly more detail is found here
And just yesterday we had this:

Bowel cancer program to get budget boost

Posted May 05, 2012 08:08:47
The Federal Government is announcing extra funding for bowel cancer screening as part of next week's budget.
At the moment screenings are only provided free to people aged 50, 55 and 65.
The Government is spending $50 million to extend the National Screening Program so that people aged between 50 and 70 will be offered free tests every five years.
More here:
There are also a lot of little electorate specifics - a scanner here, a clinic there and so on! So a lot of good news is out there. And clearly it adds up to a fair bit - with what looks like at least $300M of new money + all those little bibs and bobs.
Of course we also have the usual round of budget requests - such as the one below.

Rural Doctors Association of Australia

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7. MBS Items Claimable For Creating A Health Summary For PCEHRs

RDAA urges the Government to include funding in the Federal Budget for 2012-2013 for a MBS item claimable for creating a health summary for a Patient Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR).
RDAA supports the introduction of the PCEHR as a means of addressing the current fragmentation of medical information spread across a number of different locations and systems. This is particularly relevant for rural consumers, who are often forced to travel to access specialist and/or general health services, and who are most likely to be transferred away from their local community in the event of a medical emergency or serious illness.
RDAA has a number of concerns about the likely uptake of the PCEHR system in rural and remote areas, as rural doctors and rural practices will face additional challenges in supporting the introduction of PCEHRs. Rural doctors working in rural areas tend to work longer hours than their counterparts in urban areas and struggle to remain economically viable. In view of this, many rural doctors may also be reluctant to participate in the PCEHR system in the absence of appropriate compensation for the
time they will spend informing patients about the PCEHR system and creating health summaries for patients who wish to “opt-in” to the system.
In the absence of an MBS item, many rural doctors will elect not to participate in the PCEHR system.
----- End Extract.
The full submission is here:
So where are we left for e-Health. As is obvious what gets pre-announced is good news and the bad news is held to Budget Night.
In the crazy environment where a budget surplus is being treated as vital necessity - and as one wit so amusingly put it ‘they are looking in behind the sofa for lost coins’ - we have to assume if there was good news it would be out by now.
On that basis I don’t hold much hope at all. I think what we are going to see is some continuation funding at a much lower level than the past two years with funds announced for the whole forward estimates period at a continuing and much lower levels.
Time (2 days) will tell.
David.

1 comment:

Townsend said...

What does it mean, "Rural doctors working in rural areas ... struggle to remain economically viable?" I have lived and worked in health care in rural NSW and economic viability was not a concern. Remoteness - lack of resources and support - was the concern.