Long term health funding strategy needed, not stop-gap measures

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Ensuring long-term, sustainable funding of the health system through collaborative arrangements between the Commonwealth and the states and territories must be a top priority for all parties seeking election this year, Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) Chief Executive Alison Verhoeven has said.

“The overriding objective of the public healthcare system should be to ensure high quality care that is equitable, accessible and affordable. Health budget sustainability must include the concept of affordability for consumers and acknowledge capacity to pay and individual health vulnerability. Existing resources should be used effectively with all parts of the health system working together to eliminate waste, inefficiencies and to limit low value care,” Ms Verhoeven said.

“Funding models should support the provision of care by the most appropriate provider in the most appropriate environment, and the health system must be given the certainty of long-term arrangements to allow its evolution to meet future demands.”

The Commonwealth must work collaboratively with the states and territories to ensure adequate funding not only for hospitals but also for primary and preventive care to reduce preventable hospitalisations.

This can be best achieved by multilateral participation in the reform processes, such as that proposed by Labor to establish a permanent Australian Healthcare Reform Commission, including a Centre for Medicare and Healthcare System Innovation.

Reforms must also lead to durable long term agreements between the Commonwealth and the states and territories, with targets and incentives included, to provide an environment where planning for necessary long‑term health system reforms can take place.

While both the Coalition and Labor have committed a guaranteed proportion of public hospital funding growth until 2020, with promises to negotiate longer-term arrangements with the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), what is needed is a return to bipartisan strategic policy in health, as was forged through COAG in the 2011 National Health Reform Agreement.

“Commonwealth leadership on health funding reform is critical because all Australians depend on a well‑resourced public health system, particularly if they require emergency or complex care, and if they are unable to afford private care. All Australians should have access to affordable, high quality care, regardless of how much money they have or where they live,” Ms Verhoeven said.

Read more: AHHA Position Statement: Reform of Health System Funding
AHHA Position Statement: Activity Based Funding

Media enquiries:
Alison Verhoeven
Chief Executive, The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association
0403 282 501