Submission to the Senate Select Committee on Health

COTA Australia is the peak national policy body of older Australians. Its members are the eight State and Territory Councils on the Ageing (COTA) in NSW, Queensland, Tasmania, South Australia, Victoria, Western Australia, ACT and the Northern Territory.

COTA Australia has a focus on national policy issues from the perspective of older people as citizens and consumers and seeks to promote, improve and protect the circumstances and wellbeing of all older Australians; promote and protect their interests; and promote effective responses to their needs.

When we surveyed our membership about areas of concern to them in the lead up to the 2013 Federal election, access to quality and affordable health care came out as the number one concern. Some of these concerns have been heightened by measures in the 2014-15 federal budget e.g. the introduction of a GP co-payment, increases in PBS co-payments and decreases in funding to the States and Territories for hospital funding. We have had an increase in members and other older people contacting us with concerns around health care as a result of the budget and the continuing debate around GP co-payments.

COTA has been active in responding to the concerns and the Budget initiatives. We put submissions into the Senate Inquiries into out-of-pocket expenses and proposed increases in PBS co-payments and appeared at the hearings for both inquiries. In addition we put a submission into the Senate Select Committee on Abbott Government Budget cuts and the Senate Inquiry into the extent of income inequality: both of these submissions included some discussion about the importance of looking at the social determinants of health and how income inequality is inextricably linked to inequality in health status.