Vital spend drops to unhealthy level
Federal Government health spending has dropped to a record low, according to new figures.
A report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) says health spending growth is down to just 1.5 per cent.
AIHW says it is the lowest growth rate in health expenditure since the nineteen-eighties.
It found that growth in government health spending has been at around 5 per cent a year for the last decade, but big drops in spending on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), public health, dental services and e-health have cut funding to the bone.
The report says several of the key cuts, policy choices and decisions that led to the low level have been known for some time, but they have arrived together in the same year.
The Australian Medical Association says the lack of funding growth shows that plans for a $7 GP co-payment should be scrapped.
AMA national president Brian Owler has argued that the numbers show healthcare spending is certainly not out of control, as some government figures have alleged.
He said the restrained spending was proof that a GP co-payment or a $5 cut to the Medicare rebate was unnecessary.
The AMA will continue to oppose the co-payment proposal, pushing instead for an alternative model consisting of a modest co-payment with exemptions for vulnerable patients and boosted investment in general practice.