Healthcare a priority for Australians, must remain a government priority

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Ensuring sustainable and durable long-term funding arrangements for robust social infrastructure, including an accessible, equitable and efficient universal healthcare system, is a challenge as the economy is restructured, and Australians are looking to our political leaders for this strategic leadership, according to Alison Verhoeven, Chief Executive of the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA).

The AHHA has called for healthcare to remain a funding priority following the release of the Commonwealth Government’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook today.

“The revenue shortfall announced by Treasurer Scott Morrison has emphasized the need for the healthcare system to find more efficiencies and ensure well-targeted spending,” Ms Verhoeven said.

“Multiple review processes are underway throughout the health sector and it is essential the responses to these reviews are coordinated in a whole-of-system approach to make the entire sector as effective and efficient as possible.

“Increased efficiency, including measures to address growth in bureaucracy, will need to be complemented with adequate, durable funding if the health sector is to adapt to the challenges of a growing burden of chronic and complex diseases, our ageing population, increased costs of health technology and rising consumer expectations.”

The AHHA has called for vulnerable people, such as low and middle income earners and patients suffering chronic health conditions, to be protected from any change to the tax mix or spending cuts.

“The Government has a number of options for raising revenue such as increasing or broadening the GST, minimizing or removing Private Health Insurance rebates, and increasing the Medicare Levy. But they would need to be offset by adequate protections to the most vulnerable members of our society,” Ms Verhoeven said.

“Australians need access to a sustainable, equitable public health system which provides quality care supported by sufficient government funding,” Ms Verhoeven said.

“The health sector must take the opportunity to move towards integrated care and address the fragmentation between primary and acute care services, to reduce waste and inefficiency, and to improve patient care.  The regional focus of Primary Health Networks will assist in moving this work forward.

“Cuts to government funding are not the answer, and healthcare must remain a priority for the Government as it is for its citizens.”

Media enquiries:

Alison Verhoeven

Chief Executive, The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association   0403 282 501