Pre-Budget Submission - Using Health Resources More Effectively and Efficiently

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

By implementing sensible changes in health policy, more can be achieved with our existing health system without having to commit additional resources. This is the key message to the Commonwealth Government given by the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) in its 2015‑16 pre‑Budget submission.

“Leadership in the field of health needs to represent more than just financial cuts over a four-year planning horizon,” said the AHHA Chief Executive, Alison Verhoeven. “In our pre‑Budget submission, we outline a number of areas where the Government can achieve savings and move towards a better functioning health system without the need to commit additional resources.”

Highlights of the AHHA pre‑Budget submission include a call for the Commonwealth Government to support the recently-launched Choosing Wisely campaign to identify low-value or no‑value investigations and treatments, as well as recommendations for improvements to PBS pricing processes, and a revitalisation of the process of reviewing MBS items against contemporary evidence of safety, quality and cost-effectiveness.

“As we have seen with the Government’s misguided attempts to introduce Medicare co‑payments, it is essential that any reform of the health system is evidence-based, developed in consultation with consumers, clinicians and health service representatives, and that the implications and impacts are considered across the whole health system,” said Ms Verhoeven.

Additional recommendations in the AHHA submission include a rationalisation of unnecessary GP visits, better end-of-life planning, further support for Hospital in the Home programs, a commitment to ongoing oral health programs and the importance of preventive health measures.

The Government’s recent approach to health funding reform has been to cut expenditures and establish “price signals”. Yet Australia’s health expenditure as a proportion of GDP is close to the OECD average and, in 2012‑13, Commonwealth spending on health fell by 2.4% in real terms.

 “Concerns over the level of health expenditure must not be viewed in the context of cyclical variations in the economy. The Australian health system must instead be funded with a view to the long term benefits of a well‑functioning healthcare system,” said Ms Verhoeven.

“The proposals in our submission represent the more effective and efficient use of existing resources and health infrastructure, not simply a call for additional public funding.

“The AHHA calls on the Government in its 2015 Budget to more sensibly target and organise the existing health infrastructure Australia already has in place with a focus on patient equity, system efficiency and quality of patient care.”

Read the AHHA’s Pre-Budget Submission to The Treasury here.