Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Budget 2014

Image of 2014-15 Budget Overview with Green cover. Date 13 May 2014
So what to make of the Federal Budget handed down last night by Treasurer Joe Hockey?

Here’s a quick snippet of some of the main points that may affect you.

The NDIS came through pretty much unscathed with the Government committing to it’s funding and rollout – some good news it seems!

Disability Support Pension

There are some concerns about the proposed changes to the Disability Support Pension. The Government wants to introduce compulsory activities for Disability Support Pension (DSP) recipients under 35 years of age with an assessed work capacity of eight hours or more a week who have a participation plan. These activities will vary depending on a person's circumstances and will focus on obtaining employment. Sanctions for non compliance will be introduced.

It will be interesting to see how the Government brings this into practise. It’s all very well for people to be working if they are capable – and there are many people with disabilities that want to work. And it makes good economic sense as well as social sense to have everyone participating in society.

However, the figures of people with disability being employed has declined over the past decade. Is this as a result of too much reliance on the DSP, or does it point to another problem?

There are countless reports of a distinct lack of employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Why is this? Is it because of a general lack of understanding and willingness from employers to employ people with disabilities?

Do some employers see a person with a disability as a liability rather than an asset and put it in the ‘too hard’ basket?
So what will the Government do to address this issue to create awareness and better understanding for people with disabilities to gain meaningful employment?


Doctor’s Visits
The Government is proposing a patient contribution of $7 per service for standard general practitioner consultations and out of hospital pathology and diagnostic imaging services.

For patients with concession cards and children under 16 years of age the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) rebate will only be reduced for the first 10 services in each year, after which it will return to current benefit levels.

So if you’re someone who has complex health needs and you see your doctor and associated health services regularly and you go over those 10 service visits in a year - it looks like it will cost you more for your health care needs.
Cost of medication

From 1 January 2015 to Government plans to increase the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) co payments and safety net thresholds.

Co payments will increase for general patients by $5.00 (from $37.70 to $42.70) and for concessional patients by $0.80 (from $6.10 to $6.90) in 2015.

Pension Indexing
The Treasurer announced that the Disability Support Pension, the Carer Payment and the Aged Pension will now be indexed in line with CPI Index rather than to the Average Male Weekly Earnings.

What does this mean in real terms? Well many believe The CPI index does not reflect the real cost of living, and so feel many will fall further below the poverty line.

The proposed changes in the Budget will start to go before the Senate on 1 July 2014. Already there has been major opposition to some of these changes by Labor, the Greens and Clive Palmer – as well as many working in the Social and Health sectors.

So it looks like the Government might have bit of a fight on its hands if it’s to get these changes through Parliament.

Time will tell.

What do you think? Is it a fair budget or is it too tough?