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An encouraging health budget makes up for lost ground

May 2017

St Vincent’s Health Australia – Australia’s largest not-for-profit provider of health and aged care services – has welcomed the Turnbull Government’s ‘steady as she goes’ approach to health in this year’s federal budget.

St Vincent’s Health Australia CEO, Toby Hall, said that after years of cuts and savings in the health portfolio it was encouraging to see the government pursuing positive measures that showed it had been actively listening to the health sector’s concerns.

“As far as health is concerned, this is a solid, positive budget that should be welcomed by the sector and the broader community,” said Mr Hall.

“The Medicare rebate indexation, the Medicare Guarantee Fund, some very exciting listings on the PBS, some new money for medical research and mental health, it’s hard to fault and makes up for much of the lost ground of previous health budgets.

“It’s particularly positive to see the government come to its senses by dropping the $2.2bn in ‘zombie’ cuts in health that have been sitting on the books since 2014.

“Both service providers and health consumers alike should celebrate the government’s decision to retain bulk billing incentives for pathology and diagnostic imaging.

“This will ensure the not-for-profit sector will be able to keep services affordable for low income and vulnerable Australians.

“It’s also positive to see the government taking some small steps in directly funding community palliative care through the Primary Health Networks, an area of huge need. There’s much to be done in this area given demand, so hopefully this is a down-payment on future activity.

“We do note the absence of any significant measures in preventive health, despite the Prime Minister’s commitment to making this a priority in 2017. Hopefully we’ll see more in this space via a separate announcement in the second half of the year.

“Overall, I think the government deserves a solid grade for its efforts in health in this year’s budget. It’s a welcome change from previous years and speaks volumes about the government’s efforts at listening and learning from its past mistakes,” said Mr Hall.

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