AMA President, Dr Rosanna Capolingua, today welcomed Labor's preventative health care plan as a timely and significant contribution to addressing Australia's future health needs.
Dr Capolingua said the policy recognises that Australia's ageing population and the increasing incidence of chronic disease in the community, including among younger people, will place great strain on the health budget and the medical workforce in the years and decades ahead.
"Labor has set out a simpler, more flexible Medicare that will allow doctors to better manage their time and resources in providing quality health care to the community.
"It is a policy that clearly has an eye on the future demands on the
health system. "Reforming the Medicare Benefits Scheme (MBS) to allow a greater focus on preventative health care will allow doctors to spend more time on chronic disease management for things like diabetes, obesity, asthma, and heart disease.
"There will be less MBS red tape, which will allow doctors to consult longer with patients on preventative care or stopping existing conditions from getting worse.
"It will also allow more time with older patients with multiple and complex health needs. "These reforms are complemented by initiatives to promote general practice teams, with general practice nurses undertaking certain tasks under the direction of a GP, and a commitment to better utilise new technology in medical practice.
"However, the AMA will monitor this part of the policy closely to ensure there are no moves towards task substitution. "A simpler Medicare, general practice nurse delegation, and embracing the benefits of new technology are all part of AMA policy and advocacy.
"While some aspects of the policy lack detail or do not go far enough, overall this looks like a well thought out strategy to juggle the competing demands of a health budget and the community's increasing health needs - but we'll need to have a closer look at the funding, resource and workforce implications, " Dr Capolingua said.
Dr Capolingua said special economic reports on the impact of chronic disease on the Australian economy would be helpful in allocating health funding.
She said the proposed National Preventative Healthcare Strategy and the Preventative Health Care Partnerships with the States and Territories sound like good ideas in theory but there is insufficient detail to pass judgement at this time.