Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Responses to the NHHRC Interim Report

We have been watching with interest the various responses to the Interim Report of the National Health and Hospital Reform Commission. Below are a a number of reports and links you may find of interest.

Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association: Health Commission report hits target
"The Commission's findings reflect AHHA's longstanding concerns that years of under-funding have left Australia's hospital sector unable to meet the growing demands for care from the community," said Ms Prue Power, Executive Director, AHHA.
"We strongly support the Commission's finding that: "……hospitals are under severe pressure, directly influencing their ability to provide safe, high quality, accessible and timely care to all patients." (Pg 117)
The Australian: Experts clash over reform option merits
HEALTH experts are at loggerheads over the relative merits of the three reform options proposed for addressing concerns over hospital cost-shifting, with a top psychiatrist making a strong defence of what many see as the most radical scheme.
The Australian: Hospitals hardly rate a mention
(Opinion Piece by Fiona Armstrong, Chair, Australian Health Care Reform Alliance)
Fundamental reform of our healthcare system is long overdue, and many of the ideas put forward in the report reflect the energy and enthusiasm that has gone into advocating a shift to investing in primary health care, to provide services close to where people live, address healthcare needs in a holistic way and keep people well.
This is appropriate; the evidence for investing in comprehensive primary health care is sound, most other countries are doing it, and it's commonsense that keeping people well costs us all less in the long run. The method for funding and governing these new entities, however, is far from clear. But this is not the report's biggest failing.
That is reserved for the willingness with which the commission has reflected the ideas of those with vested interests, unreservedly accepting that the existing balance of healthcare resources (raised through taxation, private health insurance, and out-of-pocket contributions) is appropriate, even advocating that (with no justification whatsoever) that this unique "balance" must continue.
The Australian: Devil in the detail of scheme
OF all the several bold ideas contained in the interim report from the federal Government's National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission, released this week, the plan for a universal dental scheme is the one that has, perhaps, captured the public's imagination the most.
Croakey: Let citizens’ juries loose on the NHHRC recommendations (Gavin Mooney, Professor of Health Economics, University of Sydney)
The idea of the Commonwealth taking over more of primary health care makes some sense . It would make even more sense if the Commonwealth were to take over the whole ship. Patients really do not give a damn who provides their care as long as it is provided seamlessly, efficiently and humanely. The current split and what it would look like if the NHHRC proposals were implemented certainly get in the way of the first two and sometimes the last.
Having the Commonwealth taking over all care but the services run by about 20 regional authorities round the country would be a much better way to go. Apart from anything else we might then have some good public debates about what the Australian public want by way of principles and values and priorities instead of the very often distressing and unhelpful endless debates about mechanisms, who pays, who should have paid and who hasn’t got what.
AHCRA will hold a National Health Reform Summit in Melbourne on March 2-3 to discuss the NHHRC Interim Report. I will be attending for HCCA and will post to the blog after the summit. The program is available online (1.1mb Pdf).

If you wish to comment on the reform directions, you can do this in a number of ways.
Responses must be received by 16 March 2009 to allow the Commission to meet its reporting timeframe.

  • You can complete an electronic feedback survey
  • Email specific suggestions to improve the reform directions by attaching two A4 pages (1000 words) in Word format to an e-mail: talkhealth@nhhrc.org.au
  • Write to the NHHRC no more than two A4 pages (1000 words) to:
The National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission
PO Box 685
Woden ACT 2606

HCCA will be making a further submission and we are interested in your thoughts.

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