Co-payments shown the door, but alternative policies need evidence and consultation

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) welcomes the Abbott Government’s decision to dump its co-payment plans for GP visits, but says evidence and broad consultation are needed in the development of alternative health funding policies.

“At her press conference today, Minister Ley repeatedly referred to consultations with ‘the profession’ to get health funding policy right, but improvements to the health system are a matter of critical importance to all Australians and consultation must be with the whole health sector, as acknowledged today by the AMA President,” says AHHA Chief Executive Alison Verhoeven.

“Minister Ley’s statement was light on detail about the alternative policies she is canvassing with doctors.  The rest of the health system, including hospitals, health service providers and consumers, is looking to a Government now more than half way through its term to present health policies underpinned by evidence and consultation, if they are serious about health funding reform.

“With media reports today suggesting that the Health Minister is considering the introduction of bundled care plans in primary care, something the AHHA has been recommending for several years, there is an opportunity for the Minister to consult broadly with health service providers, as well as consumers and their representative groups—especially those representing people who might be subject to bundled care packages. The Government should also release the findings of the 2014 McKinsey review into the Diabetes Care Project to help inform public debate on bundled care.

“Before implementing any alternative health funding policy, consideration must be given to what it means for consumers, providers and the broader health system including public hospitals, both in terms of affordability and quality of healthcare.”

In particular, the AHHA recommends:

  • there is a need for clarity about the roles and responsibilities of Federal and state governments and the potential involvement of private health insurers in primary care.
  • policy changes should focus not only on budget savings but on building a better, more efficient health system, that is patient-centred, better integrated and focused on equity of access and affordability, including ensuring out-of-pocket costs are offset by appropriate safety nets.

Media enquiries:

Alison Verhoeven, Chief Executive, 0403 282 501