A CLEAN BILL OF HEALTH: FEDERAL BUDGET BRINGS POSITIVE PROGNOSIS FOR PRIMARY CARE
11 May 2023
Community Health First welcomes the 2023/24 Federal Budget, which delivers the most significant investment in primary healthcare in a generation. This funding injection will help realise the Australian Government’s plans to improve Australia’s primary healthcare system, increasing access to affordable care and improving coordination and wraparound services.
At the heart of this health-focused funding boost is a tripling of the bulk billing incentive - a significant investment which will support more Australians, regardless of their postcode or their bank balance, to access GPs and primary care, when and where they need it. This upstream investment will deliver health and economic dividends, as we know that the more that we invest in prevention and primary care, the more disease we prevent, the healthier our communities become and the less we rely on costly ambulance, emergency, and hospital services.
“This Budget shows that this Government is prepared to invest in the long-term health outcomes of all Australians and understands the essential role played by primary care providers. Along with supporting Australians to live longer, healthier lives, improving access to primary care is the most effective mechanism in reducing the pressure on our emergency wards, hospitals and ambulance services,” a Community Health First spokesperson said.
As well as addressing the issues with the current fee-for-service medicine model of general practice, the investment of $445.1m will allow GP clinics to employ more allied health professionals, ensuring Australian’s can receive holistic care at the primary level, a key pillar of the community health model.
Through this budget, the Federal Government is paving the way for the future of primary healthcare, focussing on integrated teams of health professionals, working together to their full scope of practice. Community health services integrate funding from both the state and federal governments to provide a comprehensive suite of services that wrap around and support clients’ health. We do this at a local level, co-designing services with the people who use them, and continuously monitoring to ensure outcomes.
“It is encouraging to see the Federal Government funding initiatives that reflect the model of service delivery championed by community health services here in Victoria. A shift towards a multidisciplinary approach to primary health care delivery ensures that we can target the root causes of health inequalities, reducing social and economic pressures on people, communities, and governments.”
These initiatives, along with other spending on health and aged care, will directly address some of the barriers to accessing primary health care. Many clients receiving care in community health services are dealing with multiple health issues, including chronic disease, exacerbated by a range of social disadvantages like insecure housing or homelessness, drug dependence and mental health issues.
“The allocation of $98.2m for new Medicare rebates for patients who require consultations of longer than 60 minutes is also welcomed. This funding will support doctors to provide high-quality care to people with chronic or complex health issues.
For many of the people we support through our network of community health services, accessing general practice has become increasingly difficult, with many unable to afford the increasing out of pocket costs. The budget’s targeted support for those most in need is a significant step forward and will make a real difference, especially in rural and regional areas.”
FOR MEDIA COMMENT OR INTERVIEWS, CONTACT STEVE MICHELSON – 0427 906 100
Community Health First is an initiative being led by all 24 registered, independent community health services in Victoria. Community Health First seeks to start a dialogue with Government to promote the central role of community health services in the wider health system and deliver better health outcomes for communities across Victoria.