09 Health Budget: Gotta do the sums

Catholic Health Australia chief executive Martin Laverty said the health and aged care sectors will have to do the maths on changes to private health insurance and the age pension before the full impact of today's Federal Budget will be understood.

CHA, which represents Australia's largest non-government grouping of public and private hospitals and aged care providers, is particularly concerned about some of the cuts to Medicare items, the private health insurance rebate and preventative health measures.

"While there are positive announcements in the Budget -- such as workforce initiatives, hospital infrastructure, and a big new commitment to treating cancer -- other announcements are disappointing. The devil is in the detail," Mr Laverty said.

"We are disappointed at cuts to Medicare, changes to the private health insurance rebate, and cuts to preventative health programs," Mr Laverty said.

"Older Australians and residents of aged care facilities also could feel the effects of a failure to invest in a funding model that will ensure the viability of aged care into the future."

CHA welcomes spending on health infrastructure, particularly in rural and regional Australia.

"We would like to see more spending on health infrastructure, but in a year of deficit it's pleasing to see this commitment remains a priority," Mr Laverty said.

"However there needs to be a greater role for the non-government sector to have access to infrastructure funding in the future.

"Improving infrastructure -- along with increasing incentives for doctors to practice in regional areas and making Medicare items available for midwives and nurse practitioners -- will help widen access to health services for disadvantaged Australians.

"We look forward to seeing more of the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission's recommendations for health and aged care reform appear in next year's Budget."

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