Medicare: time for positive reform free of hip pocket pain

The Consumers Health Forum of Australia congratulates the Coalition Government on its re-election and welcomes the re-appointment of Sussan Ley as Minister for Health.

“We are encouraged by Prime Minister Turnbull’s commitment to Medicare. But we urge the Government not to shy away from the reasonable reforms needed to ensure Australia’s universal health system is sustainable in the 21st century,” the CEO of the Consumers Health Forum, Leanne Wells said.

“In responding to the “Mediscare” campaign, the Prime Minister has said that consumers will not pay more to see their GPs because of the freeze on Medicare benefits. He has reaffirmed ‘the faith of the Australian people in our commitment to health and to Medicare’. And a government spokesperson has also said that a GP co-payment will not be put back on the table.

“These are signals the Consumers Health Forum warmly welcomes.

“However after a decade of health reviews by both sides of politics, Australia now needs to see real action over the next three years that delivers for patients.

“ ‘Don’t touch Medicare’ should not be taken to mean that consumers and the community will be satisfied with the status quo. Medicare and our primary care arrangements are long overdue for reform.

“We must keep universal access but address limitations of fee for service, and ramp up the Medicare benefits system review to stimulate best practice and weed out outmoded services. And we need to see the benefits of digital technology now taken for granted in other spheres rolled out in health care to deliver better targeted, coordinated and effective services.

“Community expectation is that we have accessible and affordable health care – as clearly demonstrated throughout the election campaign. Australians deeply value the universal nature of Medicare, our public health insurance scheme. Medicare is NOT merely a safety net but works best when quality health care is available to all Australians regardless of income.

“We need a progressive health agenda founded on sound health policy that is shaped by consumer needs. A pragmatic focus on cost effective evidence-based care that best meets the needs of patients is not beyond the resources of a prosperous nation.

“Let’s rethink the heavy focus on hospitals and rebalance the system. Evidence shows that countries with high performing health care have strong primary health care systems. That means recognising the value of general practice in encouraging people to have a health care “home” so that they assured of the right continuing care

“The Primary Health Networks open a new era of Commonwealth- states cooperation including public-private partnerships. By planning and commissioning regionally in consultation with consumers, clinicians and communities, more responsive and targeted services are within our reach.

“These developments must be spear-headed by real commitment to health care arrangements that will deliver value, invest in innovation and preserve universal access through Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

“Today CHF has written to the Health Minister to outline our priorities on behalf of Australia’s healthcare consumers for the 45th parliament. These priorities include:

  • Commonwealth leadership on primary health care to drive patient centred health care homes
  • Consolidate Primary Health Networks as regional commissioning organisations to foster place-based, consumer centred health care
  • Pharmacy reform to support new roles for pharmacists
  • Workforce reform to spur integrated care including by specialist and allied health practitioners outside hospitals
  • The national roll-out of personally-controlled electronic health records
  • Reform to the private health insurance arrangements to deliver better consumer value.

CHF looks forward to meeting with Minister Ley and other parliamentarians to discuss priority health care issues for consumers.

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Media contact

Jenna Gray

E J.Gray@chf.org.au
T:  02 6273 5444 
M: 0429 111 986