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AMA’s pre-budget submission outlines costed solutions for struggling health system

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The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has released its pre-budget submission, offering costed solutions to address the challenges faced by the struggling healthcare system.

AMA’s Pre-Budget Submission 2022–23 proposes evidence-backed solutions to reduce the strain on the healthcare system and improve the lives of Australians.

AMA President Professor Steve Robson welcomed the federal government’s recent announcements regarding new investments in general practice, significant vaping reform, and allowing patients to access two months’ supply of some medicines for one co-payment.

“However, immediate funding is needed to ensure general practice continues to be viable and to improve access to care for vulnerable Australians. We also need to see investment across other areas of the health sector to address significant challenges, including workforce shortages, increased demand, and rising costs of providing healthcare,” Professor Robson said.

The AMA’s submission includes targeted initiatives that would immediately improve access to GPs after hours, enable patients to spend more time with their GP, increase access to allied health in general practice and improve access to general practice for vulnerable communities.

Professor Robson emphasised the need for investment across other areas of the health sector to address significant challenges, including workforce shortages, increased demand and rising costs of providing healthcare.

Citing the AMA’s 2023 Public Hospital Report Card, a further decline in public hospital performance was revealed, with growing wait times for planned surgery, specialist appointments, and emergency department care.

To address these challenges, the AMA proposes shoring up the private health system, which provides patients with increased access to care and will be critical in addressing the growing backlog of surgeries.

The AMA has provided a roadmap to ensure the sustainability of the private health system, including making it more affordable and attractive for younger people. At the centre of the roadmap is the establishment of an independent Private Health System Authority to bring the sector together and create a platform for reform.

AMA recommends implementing a tax on sugary drinks to curb Australia’s growing obesity problem and initiatives to improve the health outcomes of vulnerable communities.

“Whether it’s investment in public health, primary care, public hospitals, or our private system — health will always be the best investment, as it improves lives and supports economic productivity and growth. The upcoming budget presents a unique opportunity for the government to demonstrate its commitment to the health of all Australians,” Profesor Robson said.

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