Health and ageing

Budget Review 2009-10 Index

Budget 2009 10: Health and ageing


Rebecca de Boer and Amanda Biggs

Most responses to the health measures in the Budget have tended to focus on the proposed changes to the Private Health Insurance Rebate and the Medicare Safety Net. As well, nurses and midwives have been hailed as the ‘winners’ with the extension of prescribing rights and access to Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). Other notable measures include some savings to the PBS, more money for rural workforce, a relatively small amount of additional money for aged care and significant expenditure on the national cancer statement.

Some commentators have highlighted what they argue is the piece-meal approach of this budget.[1] Perhaps the most obvious underlying theme of the Budget is ‘savings’:  many of the measures are intended to ‘reduce inefficiencies’ or remove duplication of effort. This may be a worthy task and may also be viewed as an interim step while the Government moves towards developing a clearer direction for health policy reform (for example, following the final report of the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission).

[1].    See L Russell, ‘Missed chance to fund change’, Canberra Times, 15 May 2009, viewed 19 May 2009,;query=Id%3A%22media%2Fpressclp%2F4FKT6%22