This blog is totally independent, unpaid and has only three major objectives.
The first is to inform readers of news and happenings in the e-Health domain, both here in Australia and world-wide.
The second is to provide commentary on e-Health in Australia and to foster improvement where I can.
The third is to encourage discussion of the matters raised in the blog so hopefully readers can get a balanced view of what is really happening and what successes are being achieved.
Sunday, April 07, 2013
The Next Federal Budget Is Only Six Weeks Away And The Government Is Looking For Money! What Might This Mean For E-Health?
On Friday, after a month or two of intense speculation in the lead up to the Budget, we saw the Government announce a series of changes to Superannuation for Australians - re-introducing a level of tax on superannuants in retirement (aimed at making about $10B in savings over 10 years) as well as a range of other tweaks.
It seems clear that the Government really wanted to extract a whole lot more and to announce these in the Budget in mid-May but having said (Mr Shorten set the hares running) that they were thinking of changes they made so many people anxious and unhappy with uncertainty they were forced to move and announce a relatively limited package early.
The structural deficit the Australian budget is now in - caused I would argue as excessive unfunded spending by both sides over the last 10-15 years is - is going to need some seriously smart and doubtless painful pruning. (I hear the size of this deficient is the subject of a forthcoming report from the Parliamentary Budget Office which is due soon.)
Indeed yesterday we were told things are so bad that an actual surplus seems to be unlikely in the next 3-4 years at best - and we are meant to be in boom times from mining. See here:
No Labor surplus in foreseeable future
UPDATED: 06 Apr 2013 06:36:20
Laura Tingle and Jacob Greber
Federal cabinet’s expenditure review committee sees little chance of a forecast surplus in any of the next four years when Treasurer Wayne Swan releases the federal budget on May 14.
The government gave up any hope of being able to forecast a surplus in 2013-14 some time ago, as revenue collections have failed to meet forecasts.
Senior government sources have now confirmed that there appears little prospect of a surplus in the so-called budget “out years” of 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17.
It will argue that a slump in tax collections is behind the failure to return the budget to surplus this financial year or to forecast such a return in the next four years.
It will argue that it would be economically irresponsible to impose savage spending cuts to offset low revenue and get back to surplus in a soft, if improving, economy .
At the same time, it will argue that the budget numbers show it continues to exercise spending restraint in the short term, and is finding large long-term structural savings like the superannuation changes, to fund major new spending proposals like the National Disability Insurance Scheme and the Gonski education spending increase.
So what we have is a Government framing what, if the pundits are correct, will be its last budget with some very large spending to lock in and dramatically falling revenue. (Note: I believe if the Liberals win they will equally struggle with this - it will need major surgery.)
Against this we have an e-Health Program which looks unlikely to provide any real benefit - economic or health outcome based - for years to come, if ever.
If I were a betting man - which I am not - I would lay long odds on pretty major cuts to the forward funding for the PCEHR and a range of other supporting programs no matter who is in power.
Medicare Locals may also find themselves struggling fundingwise I suspect.