2016 Federal Budget: Hospital leaders’ wish list

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Treasurer Scott Morrison will use his first Federal Budget to set the economic agenda ahead of the anticipated Federal Election on July 2.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has promised a new agenda will be revealed, saying Mr Morrison will deliver “more than a usual Budget”.

Changes to superannuation, a boost to small business and an increase in school funding have already been released, but few announcements on health have been forthcoming.

The Prime Minister used COAG earlier this year to add an extra $2.9 billion in funding for hospitals until 2020, and the government has since announced funding for a subsidised public dental scheme.

PH News asked leaders from the private hospital sector what was on their Budget wish list.

Christine Gee – Chief Executive Officer, Toowong Private Hospital

Chriss Gee“Against the backdrop of an election I think it is a safe bet that the Budget will be a conservative one without too many upsets,” Ms Gee said.

“Australians should hope to see continued investment in the balanced health care system that we have to ensure sustainable and strong public and private hospital systems and a robust primary care sector.”

Michael Roff – Chief Executive Officer, Australian Private Hospitals Association

Michael“Australians, now more than ever, need to be able to trust the health system,” Mr Roff said.

“The ageing population continues to drive demand growth and they deserve affordable and sustainable access to high quality health care services across the entire sector.”

Robert Cusack – Chief Executive Officer, St Vincent’s Private Hospital Sydney

Robert Cusack“There has never been a greater need for better incentives for managing people with chronic and complex conditions,” Mr Cusack said.

“These conditions represent the largest cost to Australia’s health system and patients with complex cases are expected to navigate a system of equal complexity. It’s time we changed that.”

Vincent Borg – Executive Director Rehabilitation and Mental Health, Epworth HealthCare

Epworth“Across Australia, all health providers combined have the latest technologies and best treatments available to care for everyone,” Mr Borg said.

“Investment in efficient and responsible care, as well as into dedicated scientific and medical research is in the interests of all Australians.”

REACTION: “Any incentive to lessen or give up smoking is generally seen as a good idea from governments,” Mr Borg said.

“The fact that this Budget signals advance warning of substantial price increases for cigarettes does give encouragement for more community education and quit programs to be communicated and that has to be seen as positive step towards better health for individuals and their families.”

Phillipa Blakey – Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Pulse Health

Phillipa Blakey“The main consideration for any government must be to encourage and support innovation and efficiency, so that each health dollar spent buys maximum service provision and health outcomes,” Ms Blakey said.

“Critical to this is the ongoing development of strong private health provision, in support of and alongside strong public sector provision.”

Anne Crouch – Chief Executive Officer, Eye-Tech Day Surgeries

Anne Crouch“I think Australians are looking forward to positive news about My Health Record and the government’s continuing commitment to this project,” Ms Crouch said.

“Reducing public hospital waiting lists is always high on the health sector’s lists of wants for any budget.

“The other hot topic is the management of chronic disease. Patients want to see improvements in the way they are cared for and they are also looking for affordable care.

“It has been suggested that doctors and general practitioners might receive a fixed budget to treat this group of patients. People will be anxious about the implementation of such change and will be asking if this is really a better way of caring.”

REACTION: “It is good to see that all aspects of the Turnbull Government’s reforms will be supported by digital innovation, including ongoing support for the national rollout of the new My Health Record,” Ms Crouch said.

“The new way of caring for patients with chronic disease and complex medical conditions is one of the biggest health reforms in this budget that I can see. Eligible patients in up to seven Primary Healthcare Network regions will voluntarily enrol with a participating medical practice, typically a GP and this will be known as the patients’ Health Care Home.

“The Health Care Home will provide ongoing coordination, management and support to these patients. Payment systems will change to an overall quarterly bundled payment to the Health Care Home.”

Phil Currie – Chief Executive Officer, Adventist HealthCare

Phil Currie“I think Australians are looking for a fair go. They will be looking for a budget that creates a reasonable balance between utilisation in public and private hospitals,” Mr Currie said.

“A budget that stimulates and incentivises consumers to use private hospitals is potentially good for both private and public sectors.

“Patients treated in private hospitals reduce the demand on the public hospitals and frees resources up to treat the increasing public demand.

“It would also be great to see a budget that provides an incentive to keep people well in their own environment at lower cost. With the ageing population there is an increasing demand for acute hospital services.

“Finding new ways to manage the less acute patients would go some way towards maintaining a check on the health spend at a time of increasing demand.”

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