This week there were a number of reports about Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, offering an additional $1.25 billion for healthcare. The reports suggest that the Prime Minister has made the offer without prompting, with the additional funding going into such areas as cancer treatments, drug and alcohol clinics, chronic disease programs, and extra mental health services.
While any additional funding is welcome this is still a drop in the bucket of what’s actually needed in the public healthcare sector to ensure that every Australian receives the world-class healthcare we deserve. It is worth pointing out there is not a lot of detail about the additional funding and where the funding is coming from or how it is going to be distributed across the different areas identified. But Scott Morrison could go even further though and really show his support for our universal health system by ending the massive subsidies paid to the private health insurance industry or propping up private pathology providers. With premiums going up and reports of junk policies and fewer services available, it’s a wonder the LNP government continues to prop up an industry that is obviously incapable of standing on its own two feet without taxpayer subsidies.
We want to be optimistic about the additional $1.25 billion for healthcare but we have to be sceptical given how much funding has been ripped out of healthcare by the LNP. This gesture smacks of desperation as the Prime Minister can see the writing on the wall that his government is destined to be kicked out in 2019. And it suggests that the LNP are vulnerable on healthcare given their repeated attempts to privatise various aspects associated with Medicare like the processing of rebates.
We’ll wait and see whether the Prime Minister delivers on the additional funding and what other healthcare policies are put forward by the LNP ahead of next year’s federal election before we come out extolling the funding boost in the short term.