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Time for leadership and real reform in health

12 February, 2018

‘The cat is out of the bag on what the Commonwealth would like to happen in public hospital funding—more of the same—which, if it comes to pass, is a wasted opportunity’, says Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) Chief Executive Alison Verhoeven.

Verhoeven was commenting on the leaked February 7 COAG papers reported in Fairfax media.

‘Health Ministers and First Ministers will shortly begin negotiations on new public hospital funding arrangements to apply beyond 2020’, Verhoeven said.

‘Do we really want the same overcrowding in public hospital emergency departments, the same lengthy waiting times for public elective surgery, escalating out-of-pocket costs, and the same fights about private hospitals and private health insurance premiums?’

‘If Ministers are committed to a healthy Australia supported by the best possible healthcare system, they must seize this opportunity to show real leadership and commit to some real and much-needed reforms.

‘We acknowledge that there are powerful vested interests in keeping the health system just as it is—but the health system is for all of us, and needs to be more efficient and better coordinated in the interests of better health outcomes for patients while keeping costs manageable.

‘Over the past 10 months at AHHA we have worked with Australian health leaders to map out how to transform our healthcare system into a fit-for-purpose 21st century system that will meet the needs and expectations of Australians.

‘Our Healthy people, healthy systems document is a solid blueprint with a range of short, medium and long term recommendations on how to reorientate our healthcare system to focus on patient outcomes and value rather than throughput and vested interests.

‘Ministers simply need to direct their health departments to begin rolling out the recommendations found in the blueprint.

‘The health sector itself is adamant it’s time we moved our system toward value-based care and away from more of the same and tinkering around the edges.

‘Health Ministers and First Ministers must be more ambitious than what is on the table so far from the Commonwealth. We therefore urge this group to take a look at the four steps we propose in our blueprint on governance, data and reporting that drives intelligent system design, health workforce reform, and sustainable funding that is dependable yet innovative.

‘As a first step to being innovative with Commonwealth funding of public hospitals, we suggest trialling a mixed funding formula with a 25% component for achieved health outcomes relating to the top 4 chronic diseases.

‘It is high time governments stepped out of their comfort zones to plan, lead, and govern, in order to transform currently fragmented healthcare in Australia. Our blueprint is a good place to start the journey.’

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