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health reform « Previous | |Next »
June 2, 2005

Health reform will be on the agenda of a stormy CoAG meeting this Friday along with infrastructure bottlenecks, industrial relations and skill shortages. We can expect the usual set piece stoush and outraged politics.

Health reform is needed as the national health system is creaking and groaning under the strain. As John Dwyer, chairman of the Australian Healthcare Reform Alliance, observes:

About the only consensus to be found among those grappling with the need for reform of Australia's healthcare system is that the status quo is intolerable....the existing costly dysfunction must be corrected...the problems are a byproduct of the wretched jurisdictional inefficiencies that make state and federal governments responsible for different sections of our healthcare system.

Basically, the feds are responsible for primary health care whilst the states provide us with hospitals. Will there be a confrontation on health reform at CoAG, or will there be a search for common ground?

Dwyer reckons that Australia has reached a crossroads:

"Down one path lies the continuance and strenghtening of a system dedicated to providing quality care in a timely manner to all Australians, based on need, not the ability to pay--we all share the burden. The other road leads to a two tiered system characterised by a "user pays" approach, while the government cares for the truely disadvantaged."

Health care reform has continually been placed in the too hard basket.

My bet is that it is likely the Howard Government's first step, now that it has control of the Senate, is to require those who can afford it to leave the public system and be treated privately. Everyone else would remain in the public health system.

Jeffry Braithwaite argues against a two tier health system on the grounds that a American-style health system delivers worse health outcomes than a public one.

Dwyer calls for a public debate in health reform four main areas: primary care,training of our our health professsionals, inefficencies associated with the jurisdictional divide,an an electronic national health record. It is good to see the reformers moving beyond an efficient federalism and public hospitals. We need soem working parties sorting this outto find a pathway forward.

However, we have yet to see a shift to wellness as opposed to treating disease.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 1:40 PM | | Comments (0)