World Health Day’s diabetes focus shows importance of funding Healthier Medicare

Thursday, April 7, 2016

World Health Day is a timely reminder of the importance of delivering proper funding for the government’s recently announced health care home trials, Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) Chief Executive Alison Verhoeven said.

“This year World Health Day is focused on beating diabetes, a disease which affects up to 1.7 million Australians according to Diabetes Australia figures,” Ms Verhoeven said.

“The Commonwealth recently announced its Healthier Medicare package which includes measures that would be a welcome support for people with chronic disease, including some with diabetes. However, the funding for these reforms is very limited and tied to broader health funding, where further reform is still required.”

The proposal for Healthier Medicare included allocating an additional $21 million to the package, in addition to withholding $70 million in state hospital funding, to pay for the reforms. However, the AHHA has called on the government to consider alternative funding methods, including drawing money from the Medical Research Future Fund to support and evaluate the trials.

“The allocated funding is insufficient to fully implement the Healthier Medicare reforms,” Ms Verhoeven said.

“Additionally, without adequate evidence that the reforms are delivering a reduction in hospitalisations, withholding funding from hospitals remains an unsatisfactory solution.”

“The government’s priority must be to develop durable, adequate funding to support an equitable, accessible, sustainable health system that provides quality outcomes for all Australians.”

The AHHA also urges the government to consider preventive measures to halt Australia’s climbing obesity rates, to help reduce the growing burden of two of Australia’s most common chronic conditions – diabetes and heart disease.

“If funding is withheld from hospitals, reducing preventable hospitalisations will become a vital part of ensuring the health system does not become overburdened,” Ms Verhoeven said.

There remain questions over which approach the Commonwealth Government will take to tax reform and funding of the health system. The AHHA has called on state, territory and Commonwealth governments to proceed carefully on tax and health system reform and ensure there remains a consistent capacity for funding quality health services across all states into the future.

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