Health a big loser in Turnbull’s budget

Opinion 2Mr Turnbull has again smashed Australia’s health system, ripping another $2.1 billion out of health spending and keeping the GP tax in place for another two years – a measure that will cost Australian families $925 million.

Coming on top of the $2.1 billion in health cuts in December’s Mid-Year Review, Malcolm Turnbull has now ripped $4.2 billion from health in just eight months in office.

Mr Turnbull promised fairness, but this Budget delivers tax cuts for the banks and multinationals at the expense of Australian families and Australia’s health system.

Mr Turnbull’s first Budget has:
• Cut another $182.2 million from the health flexible funds, taking the total cuts to these crucial health programs tackling drug and alcohol abuse, chronic disease, communicable diseases and rural health issues to almost $1 billion,
• Abolished the Child Dental Benefits Scheme, ripping a net $1 billion out of Commonwealth Dental spending and
• Ripped millions more out of health through cuts to Medicare items.

These are on top of the Mid-Year Budget Review that:
• Cut $650 million out of Medicare by slashing bulk billing incentives for diagnostic imaging and pathology,
• Gutted crucial health workforce training programmes by $595 million and
• Ripped another $146 million out of health prevention and eHealth.

Turnbull’s Budget also continues to pursue two of Tony Abbott’s 2014 Budget measures. These are the $1.3 billion hike in the price of essential medicines by increasing prescription charges by $5 for general patients and $0.80 for Health Care Card Holders and the $267 million attack on the Medicare Safety Nets.

The Liberals only ever see health as a source of Budget cuts, and will always look to make healthcare less affordable for those who need it most – the sick and the poor.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners has warned the extension of the GP Tax out to 2020 will mean “quality of patient care will be compromised” while the AMA has warned the cuts will be yet another hit to household budgets and a barrier to people accessing health care when they need it.

The additional $182 million cut to Health Flexible funds takes total cuts to these funds out to $1 billion, forcing the closure or cut back of services by crucial health programs tackling drug and alcohol abuse, chronic disease, communicable diseases and rural health issues.

Scrapping the Child Dental Benefits Scheme will deny millions of Australian children, many of whom have never before been able to afford dental treatment, access to ongoing affordable dental care.

Cutting pathology and diagnostic imaging will mean patients being treated for cancer, and other serious health conditions could be forced to fork out thousands of dollars upfront to pay for vital scans and tests.

The continuing attack on the Medicare Safety Nets will hurt some of Australia’s sickest patients and those with chronic conditions and the continuing pursuit of the hike in prescription charges will force all Australians, even concession card holders, to pay more for their essential medicines.

Graham Perrett MP, Federal Member for Moreton

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