Ballarat Community Health welcomes Federal Budget announcements

Ballarat Community Health welcomes Federal Budget announcements

Ballarat Community Health (BCH) welcomes a health-focussed budget this week with a tripling of the bulk billing incentive combined with more funding for team-based primary health care as cause for celebration.

“This budget has health at its heart,” said Sean Duffy, BCH Chief Executive Officer.

“The Federal Government has delivered a budget which ensures all Australians, regardless of postcode or financial status, are able to access the healthcare they need when they need it.”

The 2023 Budget goes a long way to supporting priority groups to access GPs and multidisciplinary models of care, as recommended by the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce.

“This shift towards multidisciplinary approaches to primary care delivery are reflective of the principles underlying the Victorian community health model,” Mr Duffy said.

“People who attend community health often see more complexities to their care, including chronic disease and social disadvantage.”

“We welcome the newly announced measures which prioritise people facing disadvantage, including through funding for longer GP consults.”

“Our clients can be facing issues such as homelessness, drug dependence, mental ill-health and discrimination, and require long consultations to ensure they are receiving the care they need,” he said.

Community health services integrate funding from both state and federal government to provide holistic services that ‘wrap-around’ and support clients’ health.

“Supporting GPs to provide longer consultations to people who face complex situations is excellent policy,” Mr Duffy said.

“The Strengthening Medicare Taskforce made it clear that GPs operating in the current fee-for-service medicine model are struggling to respond to the increasingly complex and chronic health issues of Australians, and this week’s budget is a great start to addressing these concerns.”

“Though, income support payments fail to provide basic building blocks of good health.”

Community health leaders across the state say the modest increase to Centrelink payments and increasing access to Parenting Payment Single are small steps in the right direction, but that people’s health will continue to suffer while forced to live below the poverty line.

“Without proper supports, we see clients that cannot afford the basic building blocks of good health,” Mr Duffy said.

“If decent housing and food, essential medicines, education and social participation were readily available, many people in our waiting rooms would have no reason to be there,” Mr Duffy said.

Other Federal budget measures that Ballarat Community Health supports include:

  • Reducing financial barriers to accessing opioid replacement therapy
  • New dispensing rules that allow people to pick up double scripts
  • Connecting frequent hospital users to general practices to receive comprehensive, multidisciplinary care in the community
  • Establishing a new MBS item for a longer consultation of 60 minutes or more to support improved access and service affordability for patients with chronic conditions and complex needs
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