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budget pressures: health care « Previous | |Next »
April 26, 2013

The Grattan Institute's report on budget pressures shows that rising costs, a shortfall in tax revenues, declining minerals prices and big political promises could see a combined annual deficit of around 4 per cent of GDP by 2023.

FarmerPdeficit.jpg Pat Farmer

The greatest single pressure on the budgets comes from growing health spending, which is is eating up more and more of government budgets, both state and federal. The main cause of government health spending is due to people of all ages getting more and more expensive services per person, and there is no reason to think that this trend will slow down in the next ten years without major policy reform.

Health rationing is going to become more explicit over the next decade as it is crunch time for health funding. Doctors and their professional bodies, especially the AMA, wielded considerable power over decision making and they use it to ensure the health minister’s focus remained on providing acute care services.

They ensure the longstanding media traditions of promoting a medical rather than a health policy debate. The federal government’s own Department of Health and Ageing, or DoHA, gives scant recognition to the social determinants of health in a policy area that continues to be dominated by hospitals and the medical lobby to the detriment of primary care.

Since health, for the Coalition, is primarily a matter of personal responsibility and individual choices, we can expect cutbacks to the health budget. Nor can we expect the Coalition to address the problems caused by our fee-for-service based Medicare system. This is a payment system that works for one-off episodic care but is not well designed to promote preventive care or chronic disease management which requires ongoing care across different health sectors.

So we will continue to have a systemic dysfunctionality with prevention or chronic disease and, consequently, a hospital system faced with increasing numbers of avoidable admissions every year.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 2:10 PM | | Comments (7)


".. the release of a report from the so-called “independent public policy think tank” – the Grattan Institute – Budget pressures on Australian governments.

Apparently the author is “one of Australia’s leading public policy thinkers” (Source). Standards seem to be slipping in the way we assign plaudits these days.

The ABC was totally uncritical in its reporting of this document. Just the terminology – “independent”. The list of financial supporters span – government and private enterprise (for example, BHP). Will these organisations keep funding the institute no matter what it says? I think not, which means they are not strictly independent.

The term in the independent has another deeper meaning beyond writing what funding bodies deem to be acceptable.

The report in question slavishly rehearses the mainstream macroeconomic framework that reflects a particular ideology. It does so in an uncritical manner which means that becomes a tool of dogma. That is, the exemplification of dependence.
Considering the report (linked above), I would fail a first-year macroeconomics student who produced an argument such as is presented in this report ....

That's part of Prof. Bill Mitchell's response to the Grattan Report.

Worth a read.

I know.
What if they a)Ran a modest deficit.
b)Admitted that Austerity is a load of cock and bull.
c) Did something constructive about asylum seeker policy. d)Cut defence spending.
e)Cracked down on tax dodging and middle class welfare.

there will be budget deficits for a period of years because government revenue has fallen. It is part of the fallout of the GFC.

So what do we do about that? Raise taxes? Cut expenditure? Or what?

the Grattan Institute does push the budget surplus line when the economy is slowing down.

the problem for the politics of austerity is that the economy tends to go into recession whenever fiscal policy becomes too tight

runaway health care costs are widely considered (by majorities in both parties) to be the primary driver of our long-term debt and deficit woes.

Are they being reined in? Are health care costs growing at their slowest rate in decades?

the emphasis should shift to health prevention--eg., tobacco control, road trauma prevention, skin cancer and immunisation---since it is better to be healthy than be ill or dead.