Health reform move a welcome first step

The Consumers Health Forum welcomes Labor’s plan to establish a national health reform commission as a timely step towards improvement and innovation of Australia’s health system.

“It is 35 years since the last big change, Medicare, and it is now well past time for a more contemporary Medicare to reflect the deep changes that have swept health care in that time,” the CEO of the Consumers Health Forum, Leanne Wells, said.

“Labor’s reform commission proposal opens the way to the potential of a more integrated and long-term approach to resolve pressing health challenges including prevention, obesity, primary care and chronic disease and to overcome the current disjointed reality of federal-state divisions.

“Improving health systems and services takes time and is often confounded by the time-constraints in our political cycle.  If this commission’s primary job is to oversee reform implementation, ensure it is done well and to ensure change is enduring, this is a good move.

“Australia has a good health system: the ideal platform from which to innovate to sustain its best features and shore up its sustainability so Australians can continue to receive high quality accessible care.  An expert commission with a mandate to steward important innovations from their conceptual stage to reality offers much promise.

“Key enablers to such a commission fulfilling such an ambitious agenda is for it to oversee implementation of a Ten Year National Health Plan and for its governance and mix of experts to include a robust consumer presence.

“We urge Labor to ensure a strong consumer focus in the membership and priorities of the commission.  By entrenching a consumer-focus to our national health system we can provide impetus to bridge federal-state differences.

“A Labor Government must also ensure that it avoids the creation of merely another level of bureaucracy that could become more talking shop than driver of reform.

“It must also consider the public-private health mix and the part private health insurance plays in the overall system. Labor is promising a Productivity Commission into private health insurance which we support. But its pivotal place in the overall health system requires that it also be part of the commission’s orbit,” Ms Wells said.





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