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where is the health policy? « Previous | |Next »
November 15, 2005

I've been attending a health policy and services research conference in Canberra. It is strong on the services and low on the policy. The academics have little to say about policy ----addressing the problems they identify in relation to health care reform. They kinda back off and they aren't really willingly to cross the line over into the policy arena.

There was no presence from the policy think tanks eg., CIS. Nor was there a public presence from the senior federal bureaucrats or ministerial staffers who actually do policy. The conference is a platform to present the specialised work of Australian health academics with import from good quality policy people from the US and the UK.

The inference? There is a disconnect between academic research and public health policy despite the work done by Treasury and Productivity Commssion about rising health care costs and health workforce reform. Even when the need for a regulator for the health sector is discussed ---given the medical scandals (Camden, Campbelltown and Bundaberg) and the regulatory failure amongst managers and professional bodies has bought self-regulation into disrepute.

If the instruments of a health market and greater competition are going to be used to drive reforms in the health system, then there is a need for a strong regulator to prevent the anti-competitive behaviour of the medical profession out to protect its interests at the expense of consumers. What sort of regulator should that be? No answers were offered. That's too political.

Here's a suggesiton: why not the ACCC? Or why not a strong regulator for the health industry--along the lines of the British Health Care Commission?

Update: 16 November
Today's conference sessions indicated the bias and prejudice amongs the academic community to the policy world. The latter is a world of unreason, ignorance ,indifferent to knowledge and data, dot points, and pretty concerned with getting votes. This cartoon representation by the health economists from this mob was then contrasted with academic research world of reason, truth and enlightenment. The irony was that this duality and polemic was presented as the truth without any consideration being given to the work of the old Senate or the Productivity Commission in the formation of public policy.

The health economists are moving into health research in a big way--based on their ability to do economic modelling. The economic modelling is about economic or market relationships between individuals without any consideration being given to power relationships in the medical system. When this shortcoming in their assumptions is pointed out to them, and it is suggested that this means that their modelling would fail to capture both the medical dominance and gaze and the anti-competitive behaviour of the medical profession, they just shrug their shoulders and dismiss the criticisms of their assumptions with disdain.

Who cares is their response. They represent truth. The critics are ignorant of economics, prejudiced and biased.

My assessment of this conference? Our major or prominent research universities are self-absorbed institutions, compromised by their close relationship with government and corporations. They are given enough of the research to pie to be complacent, and they are coming close to being unwilling to deal with the fundamental moral and political questions posed by the failures of the health care system.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 4:27 PM | | Comments (0)