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2016 Election Commitments

Shortly after the 2016 election was called, Osteopathy Australia published our “2016 Election Commitments”, which seeks support for 20 ways the next government can help osteopaths and your patients.

                                       Click to read or download a PDF.

We submitted this document to all major parties, asking for specific and detailed commitments to each of our policy positions. 

Responses

We have received responses from the Australian Labour Party, the Greens and the Liberal-National Coalition (in alphabetical order).

ALP response Greens response Coalition response
ALP response Greens response

Liberal-National Coalition response

Please note that Osteopathy Australia is a non-partisan member association. We work with all governments—and opposition parties and independents—and we do not endorse candidates.

We engage based on the policy issues, for the benefit of our members and the profession.

Our members hold politically diverse views, but are united by a desire for osteopathy to flourish. That’s why Osteopathy Australia exists—to enhance and promote the profession.

We encourage all members to consider the parties’ responses to our Election Commitments.

You will note that all responses were non-committal to some of the commitments we sought. This is normal for election campaigns, but highlights the challenge that we, as your peak body, have in pinning the parties down and forcing them to be specific.

For example, no party has committed to retain the tax deductibility of education expenses incurred by compliance with a mandatory CPD standard, and no party has committed to parity of esteem for equal software subsidies for all Medicare-funded health professions.

All major parties have, in our view, too strong an emphasis on general practice and an insufficient appreciation for all private sector allied health—not just osteopathy. This is an ongoing focus of our lobbying and advocacy, especially in an era that is seeing an increased focus on consumer choice and patient rights.

Analysis

The Coalition and the ALP have substantially similar health platforms. Both have experience in government in the previous decade, and while there are important differences between them on health, the differences are probably overstated by both parties.

The ALP is promising to reindex the MBS. Details on this are scarce—for example, we don’t know the dollar amount, and they have declined to commit to an increase that takes into account the five years of frozen indexation.

The Coalition is promising to improve Medicare by implementing the results of a review of the MBS. This review has been occurring throughout 2016 and will continue in 2017. Osteopathy Australia has participated in this review, but its outcomes affecting osteopaths are not yet certain.

The Coalition and ALP both promise a version of Health Care Homes, but the role and remuneration model for allied health practitioners in their schemes is uncertain. Similarly opaque is the way osteopathic care provide to Chronic Disease Management patients would interact with the Health Care Homes.

The ALP has a policy to establish a healthcare reform commission, which would have responsibility for the MBS review currently underway. It also promises to maintain the current Medicare and PBS safety net thresholds, which the 2014 Budget seeks to increase.

The Greens have a identifiably unique health policies, including higher chronic disease spending—$750 per patient, delivered through Primary Health Networks to patients who voluntarily enrol. This is approximately double the total government outlay per eligible CDM patient now. The Greens propose to pay for this with reprioritised taxes and spending in other areas. The Greens recognise, more than many other parties, the broad role of allied health in our healthcare system.

Some commentators observe that the Greens can make election promises unencumbered by the burden of governing. On the other hand, the makeup of the next Senate is more uncertain than usual given the rare double-dissolution, and no policy or promise by any party becomes law without the Senate agreeing.

You can learn about candidates in your electorate and state by visiting the AEC’s candidates webpage.

Private Health insurance

The ALP has announced that the private health insurance rebate will no longer be available for “certain natural therapies.” However osteopathy is not affected by this policy. The ALP will also remove the rebate from policies that don’t include private hospital cover, or “extras-only” cover.

The Coalition has announced a similar, but vaguer, announcement to support only policies with a “mandated minimum level of cover.” This level has not been specified. The Coalition has promised consumer input to an advisory committee, but has not committed to allied health input. It has promised a simplified categorisation of policies, to reduce consumer confusion. How this will be implemented, and the consequences for relatively small professions like osteopathy, are not clear.

The Greens are supportive of universal access to public healthcare to the point where they propose to abolish the private health insurance rebate “to pay for better investment in public hospitals and other health measures.”

Voting System

Bear in mind the voting system for the Senate has been changed. You must number the boxes in a new way.

You can learn more about this in the AEC’s Official Guide to the 2016 Election.

Health Australia Party

We have received numerous inquiries from members asking us about the Health Australia Party. We have no affiliation with it and cannot vouch for its policies or candidates.

As with all parties, we encourage careful scrutiny of their policies before giving your support, to make sure it accurately represents your views.