In Health Minister Peter Dutton’s first speech post-Budget speech he outlines the Government’s approach to health funding cuts and spending measures, including the following four principles:
1. that we must spend taxpayer funds on programmes and services that improve health outcomes for Australians;
2. that bureaucracy and red tape should be cut, and efficiencies and productivity improvements continually found;
3. that people should take more responsibility for their own health, including through modest contributions to the cost of care; and
4. that we must set up the health system for the future.
In relation to public hospital funding Dutton stated that under the current arrangements, set up by the previous Government “Commonwealth Government payments for public hospitals would grow by an unsustainable 10 per cent a year. More discipline is needed. And more responsibility is needed from states and territories who are the owners and the managers of the public hospital system. So in the Budget, the Commonwealth has decided it will not proceed with the previous government’s funding guarantees.”
In outlining the Government’s plans for primary health care, the Minister described the changes to Medicare Locals, as recommended by the Horvath Review. He also reiterated the Government’s interest in allowing private health insurers to play a greater role in primary health care “We will also be looking over the next few years at new and innovative ways in which we might fund and deliver primary health care, including through partnerships with private insurers.”
The Minister concluded by saying “This Government is not interested in funding programmes that only provide benefits at the margins. We will make a difference, and we will do so with the understanding from all Australians that social policy isn’t free, and we can no longer put it on the nation’s credit card.
“This Budget showcases our health commitments – commitments to better health for all Australians – commitments that are profoundly held.”