The Australian Medical Association’s report on public hospitals released today raises important questions about the sustainability of public hospital funding, Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association Chief Executive Alison Verhoeven has said.
“For the past three years, we’ve heard two successive health ministers talk about hospital funding growth, despite advice from the states that there will be a significant shortfall, with growth in demand for services outpacing growth in funding,” Ms Verhoeven said.
“While governments play with alternative methods of counting dollars in the health budget, we will continue to see longer wait times, higher out of pocket costs, and poorer health outcomes, particularly for those who cannot afford private health insurance and private hospital services.”
The federation reform process, and multiple health reviews currently under way, are looking at some options which might result in more effective distribution of health funding, but there is a very real risk of disjointed solutions, driven only by cost-saving goals.
“More public discussion is needed on some of the options being canvassed by governments, including the options of a hospital benefits scheme and chronic disease ‘bundled care’ packages, as raised in the Commonwealth’s Reform of Federation discussion paper,” Ms Verhoeven said.
“A strong, healthy economy requires a healthy population – and to achieve this, there needs to be public investment in preventive and primary health care which will assist in keeping people out of hospital, complemented by affordable and accessible hospital services.”
Chief Executive, The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association
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