Health Minister opens federalism and health discussions

Monday, March 16, 2015

Federal Health Minister, the Hon Sussan Ley MP, this morning opened the Think Tank on Reform of the Federation and Health, an Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) event bringing together Australia’s leading politicians, clinicians, health policy makers, academics and administrators.

AHHA Chief Executive Alison Verhoeven thanked the Minister for her involvement with the Think Tank, saying it provided a good opportunity to begin a dialogue with the broader health sector regarding a number of important issues facing healthcare in Australia.

“While the past 12 months have been turbulent for health policy—demonstrating the need for more evidence-based and consultative policy development—this is an important step in the right direction,” Ms Verhoeven said.

“In re-examining the roles and responsibilities of Commonwealth, State, Territory and Local Governments, the Australian Government’s Reform of the Federation White Paper cannot be developed in isolation from the health sector.

“Today’s think tank provides a rare opportunity for health leaders to meet together to examine the ‘big questions’ facing the health system, from subsidiarity and national interests, to equity, funding and fiscal sustainability.”

Australian Greens health spokesperson and former public health specialist, Senator Richard Di Natale said he was pleased to be involved in such an important discussion. “Cost shifting between state and federal governments is a cancer at the heart of our health system and it requires radical surgery,” said Senator Di Natale.

Rosemary Calder AO, the Director of Health Policy at Mitchell Institute for Health and Education Policy, commented that “the complexity of our federated health arrangements – in policy, funding and service delivery – and the funding contradictions and perverse incentives that it creates, coupled with rising health costs, the ageing of the population and the growing impact of preventable chronic diseases, means that unless we make changes, health will continue to be a blinding headache for governments and individuals alike.”

The Government has stated that the process to reform the federation will ensure ‘the States and Territories are sovereign in their own sphere’ and will consider setting out ‘distinct and mutually exclusive responsibilities’. The White Paper, which the Prime Minister says he will take to the next election, will also consider the imbalance in the funding capacities of the Commonwealth, State, Territory and Local Governments to deliver the health services for which they are responsible.

More information about the Think Tank on Reform of the Federation and Health is available here.

The AHHA represents Australia’s largest group of health care providers in public hospitals, community and primary health sectors and advocates for universal high quality healthcare to benefit the whole community.

Media enquiries:

Alison Verhoeven, Chief Executive

0403 282 501