ATMS concerned by further cuts to preventative health care
Dear ATMS Member,
The Australian Traditional-Medicine Society (ATMS) has expressed concern over the Australian Labor Party’s (ALP) proposed cuts to health insurance premium rebates for natural therapies (Labor scraps natural therapy rebates, AAP, Friday 10 June 2016).
In the public’s best interests, ATMS’ position remains that natural medicine treatments should be considered as part of a holistic health policy, rather than a budget cut.
ATMS recognises that members are concerned that rebates would be cut altogether under an ALP government, however please note that the policy in question is to reduce the rebate that is paid to consumers on their health insurance premiums and it does not necessarily affect the rebate to practitioners using these health funds.
In response to the proposed cuts, ATMS cites figures which demonstrate that interest in natural medicine is growing both here in Australia and around the world, with 2 out of 3 Australians having used complementary and natural medicines.1
Due to its focus on preventive medicine, another benefit of natural medicine is that in the long term individuals may save money on hospital and medical costs.2 3 4 5 For example, rather than opting for more expensive medical procedures up front, planned wellness strategies, including changes to diet and lifestyle, can potentially save individuals and the healthcare system on hospital and medical costs in the long run.
Furthermore, natural medicine practitioners are a valuable contributor to the economy, making up 25,000 small businesses across Australia and providing an annual contribution to the economy of $4.2bn.1
ATMS reiterates that it is extremely concerned with the ALP’s proposed changes to natural therapy rebates. The proposal disregards the consumer’s voice in how they choose to manage their health and wellbeing, is not in the best interest of long term cost saving, and does not take into consideration the current positive economic impact of this industry – both in alleviating the conventional healthcare burden and as 25,000 small businesses.
Currently the Liberal Party of Australia has focused on private health, investment and policy during the election campaign and has not stated their position in relation to natural therapies and rebates.
How do ATMS plan to respond to Labor's proposal?
ATMS will shortly be releasing a statement to media expressing their concern and position with regards to Labor's proposal. This statement will be available on the ATMS website under the media section. In addition to this, ATMS will be sharing this statement on our social media channels: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. As part of the Natural Medicine Week campaign, ATMS has developed a specialised Information Pack about Natural Medicine to educate both media and government about the industry. This will shortly be available online for download. Finally ATMS will be formally contacting government ministers to request their health policy plans for the future.
As a practitioner - how can you respond to Labor's proposal?
As a natural medicine practitioner you are entitled to contact your local ALP candidate to express your concerns about their proposal. You can find a list of candidates here. Please go to our social media pages and share the ATMS statement to raise awareness of this issue with your clients and the public in support of natural medicine in Australia. Let's start a new conversation about the importance of natural medicine: A Natural Choice.
Thank you for your support of ATMS.
Charles Wurf, CEO, ATMS
- IBIS World, Alternative Health Therapies in Australia, August 2012.
- Vickers AJ, et al. Acupuncture for chronic pain: individual patient data meta-analysis. Arch Intern Med. 2012; 172(19):1444-1453. Published online September 10, 2012. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2012.3654.
- Access Economics. Cost effectiveness of complementary medicines, Report to the National Institute of Complementary Medicine, Sydney, Australia. 2010.
- Tang BMP, et al. Use of calcium or calcium in combination with vitamin D supplementation to prevent fractures and bone loss in people aged 50 years and older: a meta-analysis. The Lancet. 2007; 370(9588): 657-666.
- Morgan AJ, Jorm AF. Self-help interventions for depressive disorders and depressive symptoms: a systematic review. Ann Gen Psychiatry. 2008; 7:13.