Make health count at the ballot box: Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association releases 2019 health policy assessment

AHHA Health Policy Assessment 2019
Wednesday, May 8, 2019

‘The Coalition, Labor and the Greens are equally aligned on two out of our seven domains of health’, says Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) Chief Executive Alison Verhoeven.

‘Together with our members, we have assessed the publicly-announced policies of the three parties according to seven health domains covering universality, equity, value, funding, coordinated care, innovative approaches to health service delivery, and a holistic view of health and wellbeing.

‘All three parties share a positive commitment to quality healthcare for all citizens, although all have some work to do to address growing out-of-pocket costs.

‘The other domain where we think all parties are equally aligned, perhaps underwhelmingly, is on value-based healthcare—that is, better outcomes for patients relative to costs.

‘While there have been some tentative ‘baby steps’ announced by all the parties, much more needs to be done to move away from measuring and funding healthcare by number of chargeable services and treatments.

‘It is about moving towards results that matter to patients using high quality, value-for-money, proven models of care —such as teams of health professionals providing ongoing care for chronic conditions.

It is also about minimising unnecessary interventions and costs. For example, do you really need that extra appointment with the doctor to renew a script or have a specialist referral updated? Why get that injury treated in hospital when it could be done just as well at your local primary care clinic for a fraction of the cost?  

‘Health is a key election issue for all Australians, which is why we have done this analysis to raise awareness of health policy and encourage informed debate.

‘Our analysis found that while all parties had some commitment to vulnerable populations, the Coalition was short on program specifics. Notably all three parties were coy on equitable access to new and emerging technologies and treatments, notwithstanding the substantial investment made by the Coalition in health and medical research in recent years.

‘In terms of funding, we gave Labor a positive assessment on the strength of its commitment to minimising out-of-pocket costs in cancer care and strengthening public hospital funding. And both Labor and the Greens have made commitments to be better funding for dental care, although we argue this should be directed to the public dental sector.

‘Greater coordination and integration of services drew an overall “neutral” assessment from us for the Coalition, but we welcomed positive proposals from the Greens and particularly Labor’s commitment to the establishment of an Australian Health Reform Commission to oversight a more joined-up approach to health reform.

‘Finally, in terms of a holistic view of health and wellbeing with a focus on prevention, we found the generally positive stances of Labor and the Greens to be ahead of the Coalition’s neutral position.

‘We urge people to make health count at the ballot box when they cast their votes—a vote for health is a vote for a strong, healthy and productive Australia’, Ms Verhoeven said.

The AHHA Health Policy Assessment is available here. To follow AHHA commentary throughout the election campaign, visit www.ahha.asn.au/election.

Media enquiries:  Alison Verhoeven, Chief Executive, Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association

0403 282 501