Budget 2016 Provides Healthcare Stability in Tough Times
With funding increases of 3% for health care in 2016, Friends of Medicare are relieved to see population growth and inflation met with 2016 spending despite the economic downturn and pressures for funding cuts.
"We know that health needs don't diminish just because the price of oil has gone down. Our government has been able to put funds in place in key areas like long-term care and homecare," said Executive Director Sandra Azocar, "We hope this indicates a move away from private care, and an eventual shift towards 100% public delivery of these services. We are also happy to see midwifery funding expand, which will lead to cost savings down the road."
"We are pleased to see some cost-containment in physician compensation compared to previous projections. We respect our doctors and the work that they do, but the fee-for-service model and overall physician costs in Alberta outpace other areas at a time when budgetary priorities are being squeezed," Azocar added.
"We are also hoping this government will have a mature conversation with Albertans about fixing our revenue shortage. We want to see plans to increase revenues in the future. We owe it to Albertans to get off the royalty roller coaster so we can provide predictable and stable funding to services like health care."
The projected average over 3 years in health funding is only 2.5%, which means future years may not meet crucial targets of population growth and inflation.
"While we would have liked to see funding for expanded coverage in areas like dental, vision, and pharmacare, we know things could have been worse. We had hoped for positive alternatives to improve and expand health care from our Opposition, but the Wildrose plans to cut funding and freeze hiring would only increase problems in health care. Our front line staff tell us regularly they are already stretched and doing more with less," Azocar continued. "When it comes to cost containment, instead of hiring freezes, we should look at savings through more affordable yet appropriate care delivery in public home care and long-term care. We know patients end up waiting in more costly acute care spaces when they need appropriate continuing care placement."