Budget submission 2015 clarification
Speech Pathology Australia corrects misinformation about its recent federal health budget submission
As the organisation representing the speech pathology profession in Australia, Speech Pathology Australia (SPA), takes seriously its role in representing the profession to government. To this end, in February, SPA, like many other allied health professional organisations, accepted the federal government’s invitation to make a submission in relation to the formation of the 2015-2016 federal budget.
In the Australian health system context, speech pathology services can be funded through Medicare (Australia’s universal health scheme) and private health insurance. There are a limited number of Medicare rebates for speech pathology services under specific programs, as well as partial rebates for those who may have cover through private health funds. These apply across a wide range of conditions and services provided by speech pathologists.
It is against this background and the difficult political and budgetary climate in Australia that SPA’s budget submission deliberately focussed on a single budget initiative. SPA’s submission argued that Medicare should be targetted towards health interventions that are evidence-based, effective, safe, and minimise future health treatment needs. To this end, it is proposed that Medicare rebates be available for early stuttering intervention at a level which is demonstrated to be highly efficacious and supported by the strongest level of evidence. The proposal seeks government support of one evidence based practice approach for early stuttering treatment that is underpinned by replicated randomised controlled evidence, as demonstrated by the Lidcombe Program.
SPA’s submission relates only to the formation of the 2015-2016 federal budget. SPA is not supporting legislation or a policy change to promote one program, service or form of treatment over any other. Whether SPA is successful or unsuccessful with its submission in relation to the 2015-2016 federal budget, this does not preclude it from making further submissions for funding for any other program, service or treatment.
SPA continues to strongly support the principle of practice that speech pathologists remain free, and duty bound, to exercise their clinical decision-making in relation to the interventions they provide to clients. It is also important that clients continue to have access to a range of publicly funded services and programs, while remaining free to determine the services that best meet their needs.
SPA is committed through its advocacy approach to ensuring those with a communication or swallowing impairment have equitable and adequate access to high-quality, evidence-based speech pathology services.