NACCHO #HealthElection16 : The challenge is very clear for the new Government: ignore health at your peril.

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“The political reality is that health played a major part in this election, and it was the Coalition that created and nurtured the fertile ground that allowed the scare campaign to grow and thrive.

The seeds of Medicare uncertainty, and fear, were sown more than two years ago with the Abbott government’s 2014 budget and the birth of the co-payment bogeyman.

For almost the entire term of the last government, the Coalition lacked a cohesive health-policy narrative.

The AMA will advocate that investing in preventative health measures and in primary health care is not only a moral imperative, it is an investment in the economic productivity of our nation – and perhaps even political survival.

The challenge is very clear for the new Government: ignore health at your peril.”

Article by Dr Michael Gannon President AMA : Pictured above recently meeting the Prime Minister elect

Page 6

NACCHO will continue to articulate evidence-based policies, frameworks and programs from within the ACCHO sector that achieve both self-determination and close the gap in health and wellbeing for Aboriginal Australians – one cannot be achieved without the other. NACCHO will do this in collaboration with mainstream national health organisations.

Investing in non-Aboriginal services and organisations to deliver Aboriginal health and social services is widely acknowledged as failed policy. NACCHO will keep building the capacity and responsiveness of the ACCHO Sector, and work to further demonstrate that investing in self-determination, and empowering Aboriginal people delivers better health outcomes and value for money.”

Matthew Cooke Chairman, National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation from Election edition Page 1 NACCHO Aboriginal Health Newspaper DOWNLOAD 24 Pages PDF

The election has been run and won. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the Coalition are back for a second term, with a wafer-thin majority in the Lower House and a patchwork quilt to deal with in the Senate.

In post-election commentary, everybody agrees that health – either as policy or a campaign tool (“Mediscare”) – was significant in determining how people voted. In short, health changed votes.

The Coalition attacked Labor over its Mediscare campaign, which deliberately painted a picture of a fully privatised Medicare. The Prime Minister subsequently called it an “extreme act of dishonesty”.

The AMA, too, was critical of the Opposition’s Medicare privatisation claims. There is, and was, no move to privatise Medicare. All that was announced, and later withdrawn, was a plan to ask the Productivity Commission to look at outsourcing some backroom administration arrangements in the antiquated payments system, something that the AMA would still welcome and support.

Nevertheless, the political reality is that health played a major part in this election, and it was the Coalition that created and nurtured the fertile ground that allowed the scare campaign to grow and thrive.

The seeds of Medicare uncertainty, and fear, were sown more than two years ago with the Abbott government’s 2014 budget and the birth of the co-payment bogeyman.

For almost the entire term of the last government, the Coalition lacked a cohesive health-policy narrative. The successive co-payment nightmares, followed by the Medicare freeze debacle, were succeeded by a series of reviews which, while worthwhile, were never going to report or translate into policy until well into a second term.

As a result, the Coalition did not have a coherent health message to take to voters at the election. This played into the Opposition’s hands.

The AMA, the RACGP, and other health groups, campaigned on issues that have a direct impact on patients – the freeze on Medicare patient rebates, the need for more public hospital funding, and the impact of cuts to bulk-billing incentives for pathology services and X-rays.

These are all issues that Australian families can relate to from everyday experience. These are all issues that impact negatively on patients, doctors, and other healthcare providers. But they were not issues that appeared from nowhere in the final fortnight of a long election campaign. They have been around since the 2014 budget, and the Coalition did not acknowledge them as electoral threats, vote losers, and game changers.

The AMA warned the Government, under both Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott, and directly to Health Ministers Peter Dutton and Sussan Ley, that the health policies from the 2014 budget were bad and must be changed.

When Mr Turnbull met the AMA Federal Council in Canberra just prior to the election, he was told first-hand by doctors from all states and all specialties that the Coalition had to change course on health policy.

During a meeting with the Prime Minister in Perth just weeks ago, in the middle of the campaign, I issued similar warnings.

There is no doubt that the Coalition will take health policy very seriously ahead of the next election. The Prime Minister has made that clear, saying that “… a material number of Australians were sufficiently concerned about our commitment to Medicare that they changed their vote, and that is something we need to address”.

The first bit of advice we offer the new Government is to approach health policy as a means to improving public health and saving lives, not as a way to save money for the budget bottom line.

Health policy must be driven by people who know health intimately, people with skin in the game, not bureaucrats from Treasury and Finance.

 Press Interview ABC By political reporter Eliza Borrello

The head of the Australian Medical Association has launched a stinging critique of the federal Government’s election strategy, while suggesting it revisit the concept of a GP co-payment.

Dr Michael Gannon accused the Government of not wanting to talk about health during the campaign and silencing Health Minister Sussan Ley.

“The Coalition had the scare of their life in the election campaign,” he said.

“It seemed to me from afar that the Coalition didn’t want to talk about health in the campaign and that they had silenced Minister Ley, I think that’s unfortunate.

“It meant that we weren’t having a genuinely honest debate about important

Dr Gannon called out Labor’s claim that the Government planned to privatise Medicare as a scare long before Coalition strategists realised its potency.

“I think it’s fairly clear that the scare campaign around the privatisation of Medicare really took hold, and the reason it took hold was because there were numerous elements of their health policy going back a couple of years that people were really scared about,” Dr Gannon said.

Dr Gannon does, however, support Labor’s push to unfreeze the Medicare rebate — the money the Government pays GPs for bulk-billing patients — and accepted some may see it as doctors looking out for themselves.

“I can see that and that is partly true,” he said.

“What I would say is that bulk-billed GP services represent amazing value for money.

“[We’re] talking about professional people who have had nine to 12 years of training and their time, intellect, expertise and training is surely worth $40 a throw.”

Dr Gannon has spoken to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull since the election and is confident he understands the AMA’s concerns.

“I think that in an ideal world he would unravel the freeze tomorrow,” he said.

“What we have seen in the past, going back to the 2014 budget, was a desire by the Coalition to introduce a co-payment to try and work out ways that those who can afford it can contribute more to the cost of their healthcare.

“Now the reason that proposal failed so badly is because it didn’t give the opportunity for individual GPs to make a judgement, knowing their patients well, who can and can’t afford a modest amount of money.”

Dr Gannon’s predecessor, Sydney neurosurgeon Brian Owler, emphatically ruled out the 2014 Abbott government proposal for a $7 co-payment but Dr Gannon said the concept should remain on the table.

“We need to be open to all different conversations and that should be part of the conversation in unravelling the freeze, I don’t think anyone’s going to find $2.4 billion behind a pot plant,” he said.

“We cannot have policy that does not protect the most vulnerable in the community.”

No regrets about Labor’s Medicare campaign: King

A spokesman for Ms Ley said the Government had no intention of pursuing a co-payment, a position supported by Labor’s health spokeswoman Catherine King.

“Well I think we’ve had that suggestion put to us before and the Australian public has as well and it’s been resoundingly rejected,” Ms King said.

Asked whether she regrets any element of Labor’s Medicare campaign, Ms King said she did not.

“No, not at all, I think it was very important during the election campaign and indeed the three years prior to that that we very clearly laid out what this Government is intending to do and is doing to Medicare,” she said.

Ms King also defended her performance during the campaign after a Fairfax report suggested some within Labor believed she could have been more visible.

“Labor and myself included were calling for a debate at the National Press Club on health, it was very unusual not to have one, I was available and am very surprised that the Health Minister did not debate health during the election campaign,” Ms King said.

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