Today’s hot topic: what the Federal Budget will mean for the healthcare system

By Jody Fassina, Independent Political Consultant, JF Consulting

As the raft of media alerts, political alerts and public and political commentary dictate today’s papers and coffee machine conversations, here’s the low down on the health highlights (or low lights) when last night’s Federal Budget was handed down, according to leading political consultant, Jody Fassina.

Against the backdrop of record spending on the Health portfolio, estimated to be $61 billion in 2012/2013 and a 37% increase on 2007/2008 levels of which the PBS is estimated to account for $10.9 billion, in 2012/2013 the Budget did not contain a systematic attack on the PBS.

That being said, while the Government has highlighted the savings that flow from price disclosure resulting in savings of $528 million in 2012/2013, it is predicting growth in PBS expenditure of  5% per annum in 2013/2014, indicating the pressure will still be on the pharmaceutical sector.

The most disturbing initiative contained in the Health portfolio is that the Government will provide funding to the Department of Health and Ageing to recover compensation from pharmaceutical companies as a result of losses incurred by the Government due to the delay in the listing of generic medicines on the PBS.

Hence, a pharma company seeking to litigate an expired patent in the Courts that results in delay and hence foregone savings to the Government, will want to be very sure of their legal footing, because if they lose such an action the Government will seek to sue them for the loss of savings so incurred from a delayed PBS listing.

It’s not all doom and gloom however with the Government committing to deliver major new health initiatives to support front line health services redirecting $74.5 billion to essential health and ageing services and facilitating access to care particularly in rural remote regions. E-health also gets a cash injection of $233.7 million to facilitate the national roll-out and system modernisation.

Additionally, with significant investment in oral health $515.3 million, additional funds for the national bowel screening program ($49.7 million) and health facility construction ($475 million across country areas), perhaps there is a glimmer of light for a healthier nation and the pharma sector that works to support it.

Jody Fassina specialises in providing strategic counsel to both corporate and non-profit organisations requiring high level advice on public policy issues of paramount importance to their organisation. Jody has worked as a senior public affairs manager in the corporate sector with Macquarie Bank, a political consultant with a boutique Sydney firm and as a senior policy advisor to federal MPs. He is currently an independent political consultant, having established JF Consulting.

For more information contact Jody Fassina at fassinaconsulting@bigpond.com

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