Budget ignores value of allied health
The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) recognises that while there are positives in the 2019-2020 Federal Budget, further investment into primary care, beyond general practice, is necessary to sustain the workforce and improve patient outcomes.
The APA welcomes the investment of an additional $6 billion in Medicare from $25 billion in 2018–19 to $31 billion in 2022–23 to respond to recommendations from the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) Review Taskforce.
While some sectors have welcomed a $62m investment to train doctors in rural generalist practice, we are disappointed at the lack of budget measures to support the allied health workforce. Particularly in rural and remote Australia, where access is increasingly problematic. At a time where access to physiotherapy services outside metropolitan areas is limited or even non-existent in some rural centres, it is disappointing to see such disproportionate investment.
Disappointingly a Telehealth Initiative has been introduced for general practitioners only. The APA recognises the initiative is intended to improve access to regional and rural primary care services but fails to tackle the critical shortage of physiotherapists in these areas. There is work still to be done to recognise that primary care services are not the sole domain of general practitioners.
The Government has announced the implementation of Australia’s national sports plan – Sport 2030, including an investment of $23.6 million to expand the role that sport plays in promoting social inclusion and improving health outcomes. Another positive step forward is the Medical Research Future Fund investment into research to improving the health outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This research is wholeheartedly welcomed by the APA.
In aged care, the Government will increase funding by $7 billion over five years. There will be a one-off, across-the-board increase to the general residential aged care subsidy between March 2019 and June 2019. This is a an up-front payment to support all residential care providers in the care of their residents over the next 18 months, while the Government considers longer term funding.
APA National President Phil Calvert and CEO Cris Massis will attend tomorrow’s Post-Budget Health Breakfast with Minister for Health Hon. Greg Hunt in Canberra, after which a further analysis will be provided.