Co-payment issue shows consultation critical in health system reform

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) welcomes the Federal Government decision to abandon the GP co-payment ‘Mach 2’ and its plans to change MBS rebates for doctor visit times.

Acting AHHA Chief Executive Andrew McAuliffe said that, while the decision not to proceed with these contentious changes is welcome, the government must consult widely across the healthcare system before progressing any future reforms to the Medicare system.

“The government’s concern about costs in the health system should be focussed on improving efficiencies and quality and not merely shifting the cost burden to consumers, doctors and those most in need of ongoing care,” Mr McAuliffe said.

“The focus of health system reform should be the provision of accessible, high quality and appropriate healthcare. Unlike the simplistic co-payment proposals put forward by the government, reform strategies must consider the implications and effects across the whole health system and for both clinicians and consumers.

“We are looking forward to consultations with the minister regarding any new proposals. Any proposed change must ensure that it contributes to a stronger primary healthcare system and does not impact negatively on the vulnerable and those most in need.”

A recent report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare showed that government funding of health expenditure fell in real terms by 0.9 per cent - the first decrease in the past decade.

“In considering reforms to Australian healthcare, the government should look at spending across the system and how services are delivered. The conversation on federalism the government has called for is an appropriate forum to consider reform and these system-wide effects.”

The AHHA will contribute to the federalism debate with a think tank in March that will consider how the healthcare system could be shaped and funded in the future.

Media enquiries:

Andrew McAuliffe, A/Chief Executive, The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association                                         

Ph: 0447 821 785