One of Australia’s largest community health services, cohealth, says a tripling of the bulk billing incentive combined with more funding for team-based primary health care are cause for celebration.
“This is a budget with health at its heart. The Federal Government has listened to the concerns of Australians when it comes to accessing essential healthcare, particularly for people who face the greatest barriers to good health,” said Ms Nicole Bartholomeusz, Chief Executive, cohealth.
Ms Bartholomeusz welcomed Budget measures which ensure all Australians, regardless of postcode or their bank balance, are able to access the healthcare they need when they need it.
“The Budget goes along way to supporting priority groups to access GPs and the delivery of multidisciplinary models of care as recommended by the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce.”
“We’re excited to see the principles underlying the Victorian community health model being adopted at the national level – even if not by name – with this shift towards multidisciplinary approaches to primary health care delivery.
Community health services integrate funding from both the state and federal governments to provide a comprehensive suite of services that wrap around and support clients’ health.
Ms Bartholomeusz said cohealth welcomed the Budget health measures which prioritise people facing disadvantage, including through funding for longer GP consults.
“Supporting GPs to provide longer consultations to people who are facing multiple complexities is terrific policy.
“The majority of clients that community health services support are facing multiple complexities including chronic health issues and a range of social disadvantage such as homelessness, drug dependence, mental ill-health and discrimination, and require long consultations.”
“The Strengthening Medicare Taskforce made it clear that GPs operating in the current fee-for-service medicine model are struggling to respond to the increasingly complex and chronic health issues of Australians, and tonight’s budget starts to address these concerns.”
Income support payments fail to provide basic building blocks of good health
cohealth says the modest increase to Centrelink payments and increasing access to Parenting Payment Single are small steps in the right direction, but that people’s health will continue to suffer while we force them to live below the poverty line.
“People living in poverty can’t afford the basic building blocks of good health; decent housing and food, essential medicines, education and social participation.
“So many people in cohealth’s waiting rooms would not be there if we simply ensured they had a liveable income.”
Other Federal budget measures that cohealth praised are:
- Reducing financial barriers to accessing opioid replacement therapy
- New dispensing rules that allow people to pick up double scripts
- Connecting frequent hospital users to general practices to receive comprehensive, multidisciplinary care in the community
- Establishing a new MBS item for a longer consultation of 60 minutes or more to support improved access and service affordability for patients with chronic conditions and complex needs
More information: Lanie.Harris@cohealth.org.au or 0418 552 377
About cohealth: cohealth is a not-for-profit community health organisation that provides low-cost and free local health and support services including medical, dental, allied health, mental health, aged care and counselling, and many specialist health services across Melbourne’s CBD, northern and western suburbs.