THE BUDGET

Wow.

Just wow. Cruel doesn’t even begin to cover it.

After this I’m going to confine my comments to health, but when the youth rise up and slaughter us in our beds, I’ll understand.

The PBS – officially at least – appears to have dodged a bullet vis-a-vis the Commission of Audit. That said, we have no idea what sort of pressures will be brought to bear to limit the numbers and costs of newly listed medicines.

The $7 co-payment to GPs goes far beyond the supposed ‘two middies of beer, or 1/3 of a pack of cigarettes’ for a low-income earner (nice bit of profiling Joe, way to let everyone know how you view people not earning as much as you). The first $5 is to cover the reduction in the rebate for each consultation, and the other $2 is “for the GP to do whatever they want with”. Super! That’s $50–$80 a day for the GP to cover the additional administrative costs of invoicing each patient and reporting to the government. It’s hardly a windfall. In fact, it will hardly cover costs. Is it realistic to expect those (few) practices that do bulk bill to wear the economic and emotional costs – because there will be emotional costs – of a policy that provides NOT ONE CENT for primary health care. I’m all for a government funded medical research foundation, but this is neither a sensible, nor sustainable, nor equitable way to provide it.

But the real kicker has to be the proposed changes in funding arrangements for health (and education) for the states. The outrage from the – largely Coalition – Premiers has warmed my heart. Here’s hoping they can actually present a coherent and united opposition to this measure. It, more than anything else, has the potential to substantially compromise public health in this country.

 

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