What’s needed in health this election: a focus on patients, outcomes and affordability

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Days out from the 2 July election, the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) has issued a final call for all parties contesting the leadership of the Commonwealth to commit to supporting a health system which supports affordable care and quality outcomes for patients.

“Australia’s healthcare system consistently performs very well compared with other OECD countries on key health indicators and expenditure, but our ageing population, increased rates of chronic and complex disease, rising consumer expectations and new medical technologies and treatments are increasing the cost and complexity of healthcare. Much of that growing cost burden is borne by patients as out-of-pocket expenses,” AHHA Chief Executive Alison Verhoeven said.

“Maintaining the status quo and tinkering around the edges of system reform will not provide the future-proofed health system that Australians expect and deserve. The traditional approach of measuring outputs rather than outcomes does not capture elements of quality and safety, nor does it place the patient at the centre of the care provided. As government reforms have been shaped by a desire to balance the budget and to push service delivery increasingly to the private sector, the out-of-pocket costs to patients have grown rapidly.”

Health policy reforms must support affordable care aimed at achieving better health outcomes. This requires investment in prevention strategies, and a strong primary health system that is focused on patient needs and well integrated with the acute sector. While patient choice and preferences must be acknowledged, Australians highly value their ability to access affordable care when and where they need it. Undermining this will not benefit Australia or the many people who simply cannot afford the luxury of health care purchased in the private sector.

“We urge policymakers to work with service providers, professions and the community, to ensure that we don’t erode access to universal quality healthcare,” Ms Verhoeven said.

In AHHA’s Election 2016 Health Policy Scorecard, reviewers found the publicly announced policies of the Coalition, Labor and the Greens all contained some commitment to delivering healthcare resulting in quality outcomes. There was strong support from the Greens and Labor for universal healthcare but the policies of the Coalition worked towards a greater user-pays component with a limited safety net for vulnerable patients.

“As voters head to the polls on Saturday, we urge all parties to make a final commitment to building a healthy Australia, supported by the best possible health system.”

Read more: Principles for an Optimal Healthcare System
AHHA Election 2016 Health Policy Scorecard

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