Revisiting Whitlam’s Vision for Health: Economists, Data and Efficiency

Location: Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
Venue: Old Parliament House
Date: 06 October 2017 9:00am to 06 October 2017 05:00pm

"One of the problems in discussing health policy in Australia is the lack of reliable official information…. In large part, it stems from the Government's laisser-faire attitude to health policy in this country. The Government sees its role as largely a passive one - of subsidising a hotch-potch of private medicine, voluntary insurance, private and public hospitals, State and local interests. The Minister is content to authorise the payment of bills which others present, with occasional intervention when abuses become too blatant. Its research is limited very largely to the narrow medical field with little recognition of the importance of economic research and planning of health services."

Edward Gough Whitlam, [ Speech to the Australian Parliament ] September 1967

In the late 1960s Whitlam turned his attention to examine ways to improve health policy decision making resulting in a speech that is still relevant today. Even before he was involved in the development of Australia’s universal health care system which became Medicare, he argued the case for:

• Greater use of economics to inform health policy decision making;

• Improving the collection of health and health care data;

• Increasing health system efficiency by promoting competition.

He saw each of these elements as critical to the sustainability of a universal government funded health care system.

This October, on the 50th anniversary of his speech, a diverse group of economists and those interested in public policy will come together in a unique health policy forum. Speakers will reflect on Whitlam’s speech and to use it as a lens to examine the contemporary health policies across Australia. Following in Whitlam’s steps, the aim will be to identify innovative ways of using better economics and data to improve current health policy decision making across Australia, including ways to modernise Medicare.

Speakers include:

Mr Terry Barnes, Cormorant Policy Advice 
Prof Tony Blakely, Centre for Health Policy, The University of Melbourne & University of Otago
Prof Philip Clarke, Centre for Health Policy, The University Melbourne
Dr Bronwyn Croxson, Chief Economist Ministry of Health, New Zealand
Prof Adam Elshaug, Co-Director, Menzies Centre for Health Policy, University of Sydney 
Dr Catherine Keating, Head of Health Economics & Outcomes, Medibank Private 
Prof Stephen King, Productivity Commission
Dr Andrew Leigh, MHR Shadow Assistant Treasurer and Federal Member for Fenner
Prof Anthony Scott, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University Melbourne
Professor Rosalie Viney, Director of the Centre for Health Economics Research and Evaluation at the University of Technology Sydney

Cost: $275 (Early bird price up until 18 July) and $350 after early bird. There is a discounted rate for current members of the Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association (AHHA), Australian Heath Economic Society (AHES), Health Services Research Association of Australia & New Zealand (HSRAANZ), or the Whitlam Institute.

Booking can be made online .

If you have any questions please email health-economics@unimelb.edu.au.

Find out more about the Health Economics Unit online .

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