politics

From mental health to reproductive rights: Exactly where the major parties stand on healthcare.

To keep up to date with the federal election campaign as we head to the polls to vote on May 21, visit our election hub page. There you'll find analysis, explainers and all the results of our Mamamia Votes survey.

Healthcare is one of the major issues parties are focusing on this election. And it's not hard to see why.

Over the past three years, the COVID-19 pandemic has placed an exorbitant amount of stress on our country's healthcare and aged care sector. 

Workers were pushed to the brink, patients had their elective surgeries postponed and many of us struggled with our mental health. 

So with the federal election less than two weeks away, it's no surprise healthcare is a top issue on the minds of Aussies right now. 

In fact, over half (52.4 percent) of the 5,000 people surveyed in our Mamamia Votes survey said health and hospital funding will decide how they vote in the polls. 

To help you decided where to place your vote, we've broken down where the major parties stand on healthcare. 

The Coalition. 

When it comes to healthcare, one issue the Coalition have been called out for is the mishandling and supposed defunding of Medicare.

However, Greg Hunt, Federal Minister for Health and Aged Care, says that's "completely false".

Speaking to Mamamia's daily news podcast, The Quicky, Hunt said, "One of the things I'm most proud of is that we've taken our funding from $19 billion under the previous government to this year $31 billion.

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"Every year, on our watch, has been record funding, and every year going forwards is record funding."

Here's a look at some of the other policies they're promising in the healthcare space:

  • Liberals have promised a $53 million package to help parents with reproductive services, pregnancy planning and postnatal care.
  • They will lower the PBS Medicines General Co-payment by $10 per script. (In comparison, Labor will cut scripts by $12.50. More on that below.)
  • They've committed to a five-year $19.1 billion plan to improve aged care through new home care packages, respite services, training places, retention bonuses and infrastructure upgrades.
  • The party will boost mental health support by providing $6.8 billion in 2022-23. This includes funding for critical front line services and suicide prevention. 
  • The government will invest more than $1 billion to boost rural health, including $146 million in new funding to provide more doctors and allied health professionals in regional and rural communities.
  • They will provide $27.2 billion in public hospital funding in 2022-23 and $30.7 billion in 2024-25. 
  • Over the next four years, Liberals will provide $6.8 billion for medical research.
  • In the budget, they laid out $58 million in funding to improve diagnosis, treatment and support for those with endometriosis.
  • When it comes to drug use, they will invest more than $800 million over the next four years to target ice addiction. 

Labor. 

Aged care and Medicare are two big issues Labor have been focusing on this election. 

When it comes to Medicare, Labor will spend $135 million to deliver at least 50 Medicare Urgent Care Clinics.

Mark Butler, Shadow Minister for Health and Ageing, told The Quicky this will help take unnecessary pressure off emergency departments. 

"At the moment, people are really struggling to get into their local GP at all, or certainly urgently. So too often, those minor emergencies end up waiting for hours and hours for treatment at the local hospital emergency department and they don't need to be there," he said. 

"What we'll do is develop services in the community where people can go seven days a week, until 10pm at night, and get a fully bulk billed service by properly trained doctors and nurses for urgent care."

Here's a look at some of the other policies they are promising in healthcare: 

  • Labor will cut $12.50 off the cost of medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
  • They will establish an Australian Centre for Disease Control to improve pandemic preparedness.
  • Labor will back a real pay rise for aged care workers, ensure there is better food for residents, give the Aged Care Safety Commissioner new powers to ensure there is accountability, and mandate that everyone living in aged care receives an average of 215 minutes of care per day, as recommended by the Royal Commission. 
  • They have promised $31 million to boost regional mental health.
  • The party will set up a National Nurse and Midwife Health Service to provide free, confidential and independent support, delivered by nurses for nurses.
  • They have promised better care for children with hearing loss and will work with states and territories to deliver a better national newborn screening program.
  • Labor will stop cuts to individual NDIS plans with an Expert Review and review the NDIS design, operation and sustainability to ensure that the scheme gets back on the track.
  • They will train 500 new First Nations health workers.
  • An additional 50,000 older Australians will be eligible for a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card from 1 July 2022.  
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Listen to The Quicky, Mamamia's daily news podcast. Post continues below. 

The Greens.

Greens leader Adam Bandt says the biggest issue for Australian healthcare right now is getting dental and mental health into Medicare.

"Even before the pandemic, a lot of people couldn't afford to go to the dentist. Households spend on average $950 a year to go to the dentist," Bandt told The Quicky. 

"We want to get dental into Medicare, doing that would go a long way to not only making people's teeth and mouth healthier, but it actually prevents a lot of other diseases that can [occur] if you don't get your health treated. And that would take a big burden off our public health care system."

Here's a look at some of the other policies they're promising: 

  • The Greens want to reinvest the billions of dollars paid in private health insurance rebates back into the public system.
  • The party wants to ensure access to abortion is legal, free and safe across the country and invest $129 million to support Birthing on Country projects to improve health outcomes for parents and babies.
  • In schools, they will invest $68.5 million to provide free pads and tampons to students. 
  • They will provide $246 million to establish a National Centre for Disease Control to deal with the threat of new emerging diseases.
  • In aged care, they will provide $6 billion per year to increase hours of care to four hours and 18 minutes per resident per day, introduce staff to resident ratios, increase wages and improve conditions and training. 
  • The Greens will provide $371 million to self-determined, community-led First Nations health services to help them better care for the community
  • They will invest $275 million to establish a National Preventative Health Commission to support research into prevention.
  • When it comes to drug use, the Greens want to legalise, tax and regulate cannabis to turn people away from the black market and double the Commonwealth Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment funding to $900 million.

Feature Image: Getty/Mamamia. 

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