Professor Stephen Leeder, director of the Menzies Centre for Health Policy at the University of Sydney, is first off the Croakey blocks with a budget response:
The budget is a responsible response to the discombobulated global financial environment.
The good things for health include an increase in the pensions (given that poverty is a health hazard), an emphasis on rural health, a strong response to the need for improved maternity services and a welcome multi billion stimulus for capital works in health care and medical research.
These positive elements in the budget are accompanied by several financial manipulations – individual items on the Medicare schedule, changes in the Medicare safety net and reduced subsidies for private health insurance. Pity about the special funding for public health education being abolished. Little is said about the likely consequences of these changes save that for the Medicare Safety Net.
A few of the savings are partly to be reinvested in the Medical Benefits Scheme. Others have argued that the opportunity for courageous change in the non-glaucomatous eye of the storm have not been taken.
Perhaps the final report of the National Health and Hospitals Commission will come a bit late! In that case, long anticipated major reform may need to wait.
But consider where we sit globally – we are doing very well, thanks.