Reform of the Federation – An opportunity for better healthcare

Monday, December 15, 2014

Which level of government should be responsible for the funding, policy, regulation and delivery of services in the health sector in Australia? This is one of the questions posed in the Reform of the Federation White Paper – Roles and Responsibilities in Health that was released by the Commonwealth Government on Friday.

Set against the backdrop of a broader examination of Commonwealth, State and Territory, and local government responsibilities, the Issues Paper on Health outlines where efficiency and flexibility in the health system could be improved to deliver better health outcomes for all Australians.

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) Acting Chief Executive Andrew McAuliffe said that the Reform of the Federation process provides the opportunity to better align responsibilities for the delivery of primary and hospital care services to patients.

“For too long, fragmentation of responsibilities between levels of government has contributed to inefficiencies in the health system”, said Mr McAuliffe. “Multiple funders and service overlaps and gaps result in confusion and makes the system difficult for consumers to navigate.”

“Reducing uncertainty and streamlining responsibilities will undoubtedly improve the efficiency of the health system, which in turn will help address health inequalities and improve health outcomes for all Australians.”

While the Government has previously stated that Reform of the Federation will be closely aligned with a reform to the Australian taxation system, little consideration is given in the Issues Paper on Health of the need to match funding with service delivery obligations.

Mr McAuliffe said that “the Commonwealth Government has previously recognised the fundamental relationship between revenue raising capacity, service delivery responsibilities and accountability to the public. The White Paper acknowledges that the States and Territories bear the cost of an inefficient system.  It is essential that the Commonwealth ensures that any options proposed for reform within health are considered hand‑in‑hand with the need for sustainable and durable funding.”

To support its contribution to the debate the AHHA will host a Think Tank on Reform of the Federation and Health in March 2015. This event will bring together representatives from a broad cross-section of interests associated with the Australian healthcare system. This will include representatives from all tiers of government, primary and acute care organisations and academics.

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.

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Media enquiries:

Andrew McAuliffe

A/g Chief Executive, The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association

0447 821 785