How good is Australia? Only as good as the health of all its people

Sunday, May 19, 2019

‘The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association congratulates the Coalition on its return to government, and urges renewed vigour and attention to health policy as it settles back into power’, says Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) Chief Executive Alison Verhoeven commenting on last night’s victory by the Coalition Government in the 2019 Federal election.

‘Last night, the Prime Minister asked how good is Australia, and in our view, the answer is that it can only be as good as the health of all its people.

‘Large, structural reforms are needed to deliver better healthcare access and affordability for all Australians.

‘We can no longer reward service volume when we need to shift the whole system to value-based healthcare—that is, better outcomes for patients relative to costs. Simply throwing new money at old problems will be doing current and future generations of Australians a disservice. 

‘These are issues being explored by our recently established Australian Centre for Value-Based Health Care, and we invite the Government and the incoming Health Minister to engage with us on this work.

‘Reforming healthcare cannot be accomplished overnight—but some areas need serious attention right now. In particular, addressing out-of-pocket costs must be prioritised.

‘There is ongoing work needed to reform the role private health insurance plays in our health system and to ensure the $6 billion of taxpayers’ money subsidising these businesses each year represents good value investment in health.

‘Progress towards better coordination of services must be accelerated, both within the health sector and across to other sectors such as aged care and disability services. This will ensure better service delivery, improved efficiency, better outcomes and improved quality of life for those who need combinations of such services. It makes sense to support a holistic view of health and wellbeing.

‘AHHA applauds the Coalition’s commitment to invest in mental health, including to address youth suicide. The particular needs of young Aboriginal people must be part of this investment. The national tragedy of Indigenous youth suicide rates clearly tells us we have a long way to go before we can answer positively to the question, how good is Australia?

‘Closing the Gap has gone too long without achieving impact on the health inequalities experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The Coalition must act urgently and decisively, and in genuine partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

‘There is also a stark gap in health equity for people living in rural Australia, and much more to do in tackling issues of access and affordability. We appreciate our continuing engagement with the National Rural Health Commissioner on reforms such as a rural generalist program to improve access to allied health services.

‘In the lead up to the election, the Government had little to say on oral health, the health impacts of climate change, and prevention. Ignoring these issues is not in the best interests of Australians.

‘Healthy people and a healthy community are the foundation for a healthy economy and a thriving country. We look forward to working with the Government as it returns to power to ensure all Australians can aspire to good health and equitable access to healthcare,’ says Ms Verhoeven.

Media contact: Alison Verhoeven, Chief Executive AHHA. Phone 0403282501