Now is the time to boost equity and value in health care

Friday, March 27, 2020

‘It’s time for all governments in Australia to strengthen equity and value in healthcare—now, as they adapt to the COVID-19 threat, and into the future’, says Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) Chief Executive Alison Verhoeven.

Ms Verhoeven was commenting on the release of an issues brief, ‘Can value-based care support health equity?’ published by the AHHA’s Deeble Institute for Health Policy Research.

‘Universal healthcare, through Medicare, is a much-loved feature of our Australian way of life. It’s built on equity principles—every Australian having equal access to quality healthcare based on medical need, not the size of their wallets.’

‘Health statistics tell a different story however. Some Australians, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people on low incomes and people living in rural areas have worse health and less access to healthcare services. 

‘The impact of health inequities is starkly highlighted now, as we confront the greatest challenge to our health for more than a century.

‘Those with chronic disease, people experiencing homelessness or sudden income loss, people living in remote communities, are all at greater risk, not only of COVID-19, but also potentially of poorer long-term health as their living circumstances deteriorate as a result of economic downturn.

‘Our health system will inevitably undergo major adjustments once the initial emergency response to COVID-19 has passed, but the changes being made now, such as reforms to telehealth services and workforce roles, have the potential to support greater equity and value in the longer term.

‘We should be factoring into our health policy decisions the social determinants of health, such as housing, income and employment. We should be breaking down the silos between departments of health, and community and social services. We should be sharing good data and evidence across these three areas and looking for smart ways to achieve better health outcomes and address health disparities.

‘It’s not just about better health for Australians—it’s about the kind of society we want’, Ms Verhoeven said.

Issues Brief no. 34, Can value-based care support health equity? is available here.

More information on AHHA is available at

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association is the national peak body for public and not-for-profit hospitals, Primary Health Networks, and community and primary healthcare services.


See for more information about the Australian Centre for Value-Based Health Care.

Media enquiries:
Alison Verhoeven, Chief Executive, AHHA, 
0403 282 501