Proposed changes to Medicare funding announced in this week’s federal budget could seriously affect some of Sydney’s HIV-positive people, ACON president Adrian Lovney said this week.

Lovney told the Star although the Medicare reform had been sold as a means to encourage bulk billing, it was yet to be seen if the actual outcome would be different.

Medicare is a big issue -“ it’s not certain to anyone what the changes are going to mean. We’re worried about what the Medicare changes will mean for people who are employed, Lovney said.

Lovney said the proposed changes did not recognise the high number of people living with HIV/AIDS who were in the workforce and not eligible for health care cards.

Static spending on hepatitis C was also a concern, he said.

We’re disappointed not to see an increase in funding. There’s a clear view in the community that the government is under-investing in hepatitis C.

This left other health promotion agencies to make up the difference, he said.

On the positive side, Lovney welcomed a two-year $2 million investment in addressing issues stemming from psychostimulant (including crystal meth) abuse.
He also applauded the government’s move to increase funding for health promotion.

A four-year $135 million budget item aimed at assisting community organisations to find employment for people with disabilities received Lovney’s cautious support. As long as the funds would be used to get people back into the workforce rather than sheltered workshops it was welcomed.

AMA president Kerryn Phelps said she would have welcomed a reworking of the government’s Medicare reforms, after protests from doctors and the public.

Phelps said in a statement issued after the budget’s release on Tuesday night the Federal funding for health owed more to creative accounting than a commitment to Medicare.

Money is being moved from one program to another with only short-term effects in mind, Phelps said.

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