The Minister for Ageing has defended the Rudd Government’s decision to leave health spending out of its $42 billion stimulus package.

Justine Elliot told delegates at the TriState Conference in Albury that the package was focused on nation building and job creation.

“I might add that since the Rudd Government was elected, we have committed record funding to health and ageing,” Mrs Elliot said.

The comments came in response to calls from experts and delegates for extra Commonwealth assistance to develop IT projects throughout the sector.

The Chair of the Australian Centre for Health Research, Neil Batt AO pointed out that US President Barack Obama had invested heavily in electronic health infrastructure in his recent $US787 billion stimulus package.

“Is it possible that we could re-consider ours?” he asked.

Aged Care Association Australia CEO, Rod Young said many providers struggle with the cost outlays required to implement new systems.

“The training and education of staff and the development of new business systems cost twice as much as the purchase of new hardware and software,” he said.

“For the small, standalone facilities especially, it’s a big ask.”

Mr Young suggested that the Howard Government’s controversial $1,000-per-bed grants in 2005 had been extremely helpful to the industry, even if they were poorly targeted.

“Hopefully we see some sort of Government support in this area again,” he said.

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