Investment in Medical Research should not come at the cost of Affordable Care

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

 

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA), in responding to news today that an action group has been formed to support the GP co-payment in order to establish the Medical Research Future Fund, reconfirmed concerns in relation to affordable care for those most in need.

 “The AHHA agrees that increased funding for medical and health services research in Australia is of the utmost importance, however we cannot support this increased funding coming at the cost of affordable primary health care,” said AHHA Chief Executive Ms Alison Verhoeven.

“Since the Budget in May countless organisations have described the negative consequences of introducing a co-payment for GP, pathology and diagnostic imaging services.  The government has also indicated their interest in considering alternatives to their initial proposal so I cannot see how this action group can disagree with so many of their sector colleagues.”

“The establishment of the Medical Research Future Fund doesn’t appear to be in question, even the Minister himself outlined recently that he would persist with a smaller base fund even if the co-payment does not pass Parliament.  I would think it appropriate that when the fund is established that its governing rules allow for private contributions, bequests and collaborative investment as a way of growing the fund over time, instead of a complete reliance on Commonwealth funds,” Ms Verhoeven said. 

Investment in Australia’s research workforce and industry future is important, but the AHHA remains concerned that if this investment comes at the cost of people accessing timely and appropriate health care the treatments and care models developed through this research will have gone to waste. 

Through the Deeble Institute, the AHHA partners with researchers and academics to conduct health policy research and support  translational research to contribute to the sector in Australia.  There are a variety of small to medium organisations and private interests also pursuing research that may not be on a $20 billion scale, but it all counts. 

“All of us in the health sector, especially the non-government organisations, have all had to be much more efficient and creative in how we do our work and where we seek funding from and I would encourage the medical research sector to do the same.  Patient care and improving health outcomes for all Australians, especially those most vulnerable, should be the driving force behind health policy and funding decisions; there is another portfolio that is charged with prioritising industry views and I would suggest that this challenge should fall to them and not the Minister for Health” Ms Verhoeven said. 

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association is the national peak body for public and not-for-profit hospitals, community and primary healthcare services, and advocates for universal, high quality and affordable healthcare to benefit the whole community. For more information, see: http://ahha.asn.au

Media enquiries:

Alison Verhoeven

Chief Executive, The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association

0403 282 501