#226 Pandemic spending at centre of Federal Budget


7 October 2020

AMA Federal President, Dr Omar Khorshid, has commended the Federal Government’s $16 billion COVID-19 health response and further stimulus spending aimed at fending off a COVID-19 recession.

“The health and economic impacts of COVID-19 warrant this scale of health response and stimulus spending directed toward restarting the economy,” Dr Khorshid said. “The Budget commits $1.1 billion to a COVID-19 vaccine arriving by next July and assumes any further COVID-19 outbreaks will be localised and contained.”

“A safe, effective and widely available vaccine is not guaranteed for next year and if it doesn’t eventuate and a large outbreak occurs, economic recovery will be threatened, along with many Australian lives. “The Government needs to be willing to rethink scaling back JobSeeker and JobKeeper if a vaccine-led economic recovery is delayed or doesn’t eventuate.”

“Governments cannot drop the ball and must continue a broad range of strong policies to keep COVID-19 out of the community in order to ensure a sustained health and economic recovery.”

In specific health portfolio measures, Dr Khorshid commended the Government for:

“Sound decisions have been made. The Government has retained its commitment to enrolling patients in general practice by preserving $448 million for the deferred patient enrolment program,” Dr Khorshid said. “It’s also taken a modest step to continue health insurance for younger people by adjusting ages of children able to use private health services through their parent’s health cover. Minister Hunt has committed to actuarial review of private health reform proposals outlined in the AMA’s Prescription for Private Health report. We’ll get to work through these reforms this month.”

“Beyond these modest measures, the budget has left most other challenges in healthcare for another day. More is needed on preventive health. More is needed on long-term public hospital funding. Private health is facing viability issues, and general practice in particular needs help now,” Dr Khorshid said.

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