Healthier budgets can pay economic dividends
The Consumers Health Forum has called on the Government to accept that health expenditure is crucial not only to save lives but also as an investment in the wider economy.
In its federal budget submission, CHF has urged the Government to move away from the current budgetary requirement for all new health expenditures to be offset by savings in other parts of the health portfolio.
“This robbing Peter to pay Paul approach in health budgeting, overlooks the reality that many areas require more expenditure: primary health care, mental health and aged care to name just three,” the CEO of the Consumers Health Forum, Leanne Wells said.
“Many of the necessary reforms require additional spending now for society to reap the longer-term benefits. We need to rethink our approach to health to encourage more comprehensive strategies towards healthier lifestyles and more cost-effective and outcome -based health care.
“A much more active and effective national strategy to counter obesity, as we call for in our budget submission, would yield substantial dividends in the longer term by reducing the prevalence of costly chronic illness and the impacts it has on productivity loss.
“We welcome the announcement by the Health Minister, Greg Hunt, today of a $170 million top-up, bringing to $1.45 billion the funding for community mental health services and changes to ensure security for both jobs and services.
"The funding will be provided through the 31 Primary Health Networks (PHNs), which we have supported as independent regional health organisations, commissioning services, including mental health, in response needs of each local community.
“Local, community and consumer involvement in development and direction of health services would engage and empower people to achieve better health outcomes.
The Consumers Health Forum’s budget submission includes calls for:
- Development of an Australian Co-Creating Health initiative to support people with chronic conditions to actively manage their own health through better education and training for patients and clinicians, including in general practice
- A Prescriptions for Healthy Living program to equip people at risk of chronic disease with practical supports to lower the risk
- A Healthy Families, Healthy Communities initiative to educate and support primary care providers to engage effectively with patents to support healthy, early childhood development.