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Weekend question: about healthcare « Previous | |Next »
July 1, 2007

Why is health on the backburner in this federal election. Is it because Australian's have a really good healthcare system? Is it because of bipartisan consensus on health? Is it because Tony Abbott has effectively neutralized health as a political issue? Is it because the ALP has little to say because it has run out of ideas after Medicare Gold was relegated to the historical bin? Is the concern about a two tiered health system lessening?

There is a consensus that the federal government should provide support to all Australians through Medicare and the pharmaceutical benefits scheme; that taxpayers should subsidize private health insurance and that the management of public hospitals should be left to the states.

Health has fallen off the political agenda, even as prevention becomes the new buzz word in health policy. Little is said about doctors being wined and dined by drug companies under "educational" events, and the way GP's are corrupted by these practices.

Does the ALP have a health policy? Not really. Medicare Gold has been pushed to one side. There have been vague commitments about improving relations with the states, reintroducing the commonwealth dental scheme and addressing the prevention of chronic illness. Labor has lost its leader in the Australian health policy debate by default.

Last week Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd did release Labor's health policy entitled "Fresh ideas and future economy", it focused on preventive health care. Rudd Labor is aware that the cost of providing health care and the cost of rising demand for health care is expected to spiral--- the commonwealth Government spending on health care will increase from 3.8 per cent of GDP in 2006-07 to 7.3 per cent in 2046-47 and that poor health adversely affects work performance and productivity.

Rudd Labor argues that the best way to equip our health system to deal with the challenges of the future is to end the blame game and re-invigorate the role of the primary care system – the front line of the health system which provides health care to local communities. So it will:

Develop a National Preventative Health Strategy to provide a blueprint for tackling the burden of chronic disease currently caused by obesity, tobacco, and excessive consumption of alcohol. The Strategy will be supported by an expert Taskforce.

Shift the focus from so-called “six minute medicine” in general practice by beginning a reform process to provide incentives for GPs to practice quality preventative health care;

Broaden the focus of the major health care agreement between the Commonwealth and the States and Territories beyond hospital funding by developing a National Preventative Health Care Partnership; and

In its first term, commission the Treasury to produce a series of definitive reports on the impact of chronic disease on the Australian economy, and the economic benefits of a greater focus on prevention in health care.

This sounds good but there is not enough detail to pass judgement.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 5:40 PM | | Comments (8)


I wonder if there is a general acceptance in Australia now that if you have private health insurance you get good health care and if you haven't you get something less. But it is strange that it isn't really up there. Perhaps it will be highlighted more as we get closer to the election. When Dr Death is extradited it will be in the news a bit for a while.

health is an issue bubbling way in the background. Most commentators think that getting our hospitals properly funded and more GPs on the ground is what people really care about.

Kevin Rudds' major speech on health care was delivered to the Health Insurance Summit in Sydney. It was entitled Fresh ideas for the future economy: Why good health policy is good economic policy The core idea is that preventing people getting ill not only helps the individuals but will help our economy by keeping people healthy and in the workforce in the future.

If you compare Australias health system to Americas we are looking good.
It is common for families to pay $600 per month for private health cover and this is not full cover and medicines that dont come direct from the hospital are charged full price which is astronomical.
yes we need more doctors...but we only need good ones

Les, public accountability of health professionals and public safety are issues. The Dr Death case illustrates why.

Yes, but the major problem is that Australians are too used to having access to free good medical health care. Too many feel that free good health care is their right of passage. Our population can no longer sustain a free (fantastic) system. Its either pay for private cover and go to a good hospital or get in line at an average one.
Also, there are still plenty of Bulk bill medical centers around where you don't pay for visits and pensioners and unemployed get $3 prescriptions.
Geez! What do you's want? Lollies too!

Certainly not the US health system where the balance between both public and private funds to support our health system is lost.So we have a system out of kilter, publicly underfunded and with the private system driven by voracious pharmaceutical and technology companies. Among comparable countries, the US has the highest cost of services, is the least fair and has the poorest outcomes.

Seem to remember last week buried in corner of middle pages of "Oz' a story abt Abbott withdrawing a billion dollars of state health funding. This was at the height of the "Emergency", so not much detail.
Anybody able to clarify?