Catholic Health sees missed Budget opportunity for aged care

Catholic Health Australia CEO Crancis Sullivan believes that the "bursting budget surplus" gave the Government a "unique opportunity to move aged care services in Australia onto a more sustainable and professional footing", but it opted instead for tax cuts for wealthy and younger Australians.

Last year, Mr Sullivan commended the Federal Government's Budget package, which he said "staved off a looming crisis and provided temporary relief for a sector which has been chronically underfunded and experiences burgeoning demand". But this year, it "chose not to further invest in innovative capital raising strategies and best practice models of care for aged care homes and services in the community."

He said the Government has failed to correct the inadequate funding base for care, and also to extend the capital loans scheme, and provide the recognised number of training places for nurses and attendant carers.

"When money has been inequitably distributed across all income levels, it is galling to recognise the lack of any new specific measure to assist aged homeless people," he said. "The Government refuses to properly fund aged care homes for the accommodation costs of pensioners with little income and assets."

Mr Sullivan said that last night's Budget tax cuts came at the expense of increased out of pocket costs for sick lower and middle income earners said Francis Sullivan, CHA's CEO.

"Following on the changes to the Medicare Safety Net, the Government will now introduce increased charges for medications over the course of the Parliament which effectively erodes any tax gains - particularly for average working Australians," he said.

"These extra charges and increased safety net thresholds undermine the capacity for low paid people with chronic conditions to remain in work and stay off welfare payments."

"In effect we are witnessing a fraying of the health safety nets as a consequence of the political obsession with tax cuts."

"On top of increased doctor and medication payments, average Australians will likely pay once again near 8% extra for health insurance and higher fees for when securing respite services for the elderly and disabled family members.

"There will be no change left from a relatively modest tax cut for below average income Australians."

However he welcomed the recognition of the "parlous health status of Australia's indigenous people and those with mental illness", along with cancer, palliative care and youth anti-smoking initiatives and implementation of the Government's election commitments.

Catholic Health Australia represents the largest grouping of non-government health and aged care providers.

Missed Opportunities For Aged Care (Catholic Health Australia 10/5/05)
Why Tax Cuts While Health And Aged Care Bleed? (Catholic Health Australia 10/5/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Federal Government Budget Website | Budget Speech
Catholic Health Australia

Budget non-event for poor but Govt delivers on aged care (CathNews 12/5/04)

Blowout despite backflip (The Australian 11/5/05)
Medicare safety net threshold lifted (Seven News/Australian Associated Press 10/5/05)
Government breaks Medicare promise (Seven News/Australian Associated Press 10/5/05)
Health groups find fault with Budget's focus (ABC News 10/5/05)
Opposition: Budget fails to deliver (Sydney Morning Herald 10/5/05)
Health spending targets aged (The Age 11/5/05)
Medicare safety net threshold lifted (The Age 11/5/05)
Blowout despite backflip (The Australian 11/5/05)

11 May 2005