With the election now having been called we have been given the Liberal Health and Aged Care Policy (presumably with a few sweeteners to come during the Campaign)
From the Document entitled “Australia: Strong, Prosperous and Secure” we get the following on Liberal statement on health and aged care.
Health and Aged Care
Around one-fifth of the national budget is spent on health and aged care services. The Coalition has invested record amounts in ensuring Australia maintains a high-quality, affordable and sustainable health care system. We have also increased substantially investment in aged care with reforms designed to ensure more aged care places, better quality care and improved skills for the aged care workforce.
A Graphic then shows total Commonwealth Spend has risen from $20B to $52B over 11 years.
The Coalition is committed to a strong Medicare and, through our commitment to private health insurance, is the only side of politics which actively supports Australians having real choice over their health care.
A well-funded, comprehensive Medicare system is the cornerstone of health care in Australia. All Australians have the right to universal access to the three pillars of Medicare: a universal Medicare rebate for medical services; a universal Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS); and universal access to free public hospital care.
In the last Health Care Agreement with the states and territories, the Coalition committed a record $42 billion to public hospitals for 2003-2008. We are also taking pressure off public hospitals through private health insurance rebates, support for after-hours GPs (including clinics co-located with public hospitals) and funding for the National Health Call Centre Network.
Strong economic management has allowed the Coalition to introduce a series of other measures to improve our health system. These include:
- bulk-billing incentives which have seen GP bulk-billing rates increase to 78.2 per cent in the June quarter 2007, the 14th consecutive quarterly increase;
- the Medicare Safety Net which covers 80 per cent of out-of-pocket non-hospital costs above certain thresholds;
- expanded treatments on the PBS so Australians have access to new and innovative medicines;
- Round-the-Clock Medicare which delivers higher Medicare rebates for GP services provided after hours; and
- a new Health and Medical Investment Fund (initially $2.5 billion) with earnings directed to new facilities and the latest medical equipment to treat diseases and save lives.
We are working to expand Australia’s health workforce with more medical and nursing places. The number of new medical students has risen by more than 50 per cent since 2003. Since 2000, seven new medical schools have been established in Australia and another two are preparing to open in 2008.
In September 2007, we announced a $170 million investment in 25 Australian Hospital Nursing Schools to deliver hospital-based training for enrolled nurses in major public and private hospitals across the country.
This complements university-based training with nursing places in universities set to increase to 10,100 by 2011.
Recognising that prevention is always better than cure, the Coalition has significantly expanded funding on preventative health care. With higher rates of child immunisation and cancer screening, for example, more Australians are leading healthier lives. Through the Australian Better Health Initiative, we are working cooperatively with the states and territories on disease prevention and early intervention.
The 2007 Budget included major new investments to strengthen the role of prevention and address chronic and preventable disease in Australia. The Coalition’s new dental plan, at an estimated cost of $385 million over four years, will ensure about 200,000 Australians with poor oral health associated with chronic and complex conditions gain necessary dental treatment. We have also committed $103 million over four years to the fight against Type 2 diabetes.
The Coalition has brought to the fore the issue of mental health and committed $1.9 billion to a national mental health action plan, including increased psychologist, psychiatric and GP services through Medicare.
We have ensured Australia is at the leading edge of global health developments with a massive investment in medical research over the last decade. This investment will reach $695 million by 2009-10 (a five-fold increase since 1995-96). It is supporting Australia’s world-leading scientists, researchers and medical pioneers searching for break-throughs to combat heart disease, cancer, depression and chronic diseases such as diabetes and asthma.
Alongside Medicare, private health insurance is an important element of Australia’s health system, providing choice and relieving pressure on public facilities. The Coalition restored the viability of private health insurance by introducing the 30 per cent Rebate and Lifetime Health Cover. More than 10.5 million Australians are now covered by private health insurance.
The ageing of the population, with the number of Australians aged 70 and over expected to double in the next 20 years, creates new challenges and spending pressures for Australia. The Coalition has committed to ensuring that Australia provides the care and support needed and wanted by our older people. From $3.1 billion in 1995-96, expenditure on ageing and aged-care activities has increased to an estimated 8.6 billion in 2007-08 – real growth of almost 180 per cent.
This has allowed significant growth in both residential and community-based aged care services so that older Australians can access the right level of care when they need it. We are also committed to a rigorous system of checks and accreditation to ensure the highest standards of care provision.
The Coalition’s additional investment of $1.5 billion announced in February 2007 ensures that the agedcare industry can deliver quality, choice and affordability with more aged care places, more training and better care.
What is missing. Anything that addresses the core problems in my view.
First, it is clear the Government came very late to the need to do something about the ageing medical and nursing workforce. They were much too late.
Second the sudden interest in training more nurses and doing something about dental services have the same feel of a ‘death-bed’ conversion as do the announcements on the place of the Aboriginal Peoples in our country.
Third, there is not even a hint of any policy to address the blame and cost shifting between the Commonwealth and the States.
Fourth, the lack of real focus on GPs and Prevention is obvious and sad.
Fifth somehow the silliness of taking over State Hospitals and creating hospital boards is just not mentioned.
And last, not a word on Health IT! (at least Labor’s platform gives the topic a few quite sensible paragraphs)
Very average in my view, but what would I expect.
For those wanting to review Labor’s approach – so far announced.
The ALP Policy Platform can be found here – Chapter 10 is the important bit for this blog.
Labor’s plans to address the Commonwealth State divide are found here.
Enjoy the next six weeks!