Greens leader Richard di Natale has used his address to the Australian Medical Association’s conference in Canberra today to outline the Greens’ health policies leading into the July election.
“Health is an investment, not a cost,” he says. “Access to the best care for all Australians, at the time they need it, is not just a nice thing to say before you swing the axe and talk about tough choices.
“Access to healthcare is a right and an expectation of the Australian public.”
Di Natale says Australia needs to spend more on health care, and that Australians generally agree, with research showing that the public values our universal health care system.
“A 2014 ANU poll found that 81% of people thought we should spend more on health, and only 6% thought we should spend less,” he says.
He highlighted issues of inequity in accessing health care, particularly for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and people in lower socio-economic and rural/regional areas.
Di Natale also pointed out that the Greens have consistently opposed the freezing of indexation of MBS payments.
“And we implore the government to listen to the AMA, the RACGP and patient groups like the Consumers Health Forum, and reverse this terrible policy.
“Because not only does it attack our universal system – it’s also just a shameless exercise in cost shifting – with patients turning up at our hospitals.
“Expensive hospital admissions that could have been avoided had a patient seen their GP when they needed to.
“The Greens are also the only party that has committed to reinstating the funding to hospitals that was torn out after the last election.”
The health sector needs to be able to meet the needs of the growing number of people with chronic illness, including multiple chronic diseases, he says; and more needs to be done in terms of harm minimisation for people with drug and alcohol problems.
Prevention is also a key issue for the Greens, di Natale says.