The Federal Budget and Healthcare

This year’s Federal budget does very little to support the health system. There is some good news in that Medicare appears to be safe from further cuts and efforts to privatise it, at least for now.

Unfortunately while there is additional funding being put into our public health system there nothing has done to reverse the freeze on rebates for pathology testing and diagnostic imaging. These two essential areas of our healthcare system are becoming rapidly unaffordable as the out-of-pocket expenses become too large forcing many vulnerable Australians into making unenviable choices about whether to look after their health or pay the rent.

While funding is welcome to boost Australia’s medical research, the value of developing world-class medical breakthroughs is lessened if we’re not able to take advantage of these because the workforce isn’t available. Fortunately this budget saw additional funding put into mental health however there remain concerns about the funding for mental health programs delivered through the community health sector.

The Turnbull Government has failed to address any of the systemic issues that allow large corporations to avoid paying tax and to offshore their profits. The budget fails to address the growing inequality in our society and leaves young people even more vulnerable with rising living costs and unaffordable housing. And the budget fails to address the growing real threat that climate change poses to our future health and well-being.

The proposed overhaul of the taxation system will further entrench inequality as those on lower incomes pay a higher proportion to taxes. Inexplicably, endemic corporate tax avoidance does not get a mention. The ‘overhaul’ will also see that more and more government services are cut as the proportion of revenue from income tax diminishes.

It’s frustrating that the Federal Government, like the Victorian Government, continues to view our health system as being solely made up of doctors and nurses when the reality is that without medical scientists and physicists, dietitians, psychologists, audiologists, pharmacists, clinical perfusionists, cleaners, cooks, and orderlies and many others, our health system wouldn’t function and can’t deliver. It’s disappointing that the Turnbull Government continues to fail Australia when it comes to delivering world-class healthcare that is universally accessible to all Australians.

Unfortunately this is a budget that continues to look after the big end of town and does very little to close the gaps in health and education or the growing intergenerational inequality. It’s a budget that ensures that big business will be able to continue to avoid paying tax and offshore their profits. It’s a budget that reinforces why the rules are broken and why it’s time to change the rules.

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