AHHA Says A Productive, Healthy Country Needs Health Policy for All

By Petrina Smith
Thursday, 21 August, 2014

alison verhoeven’A productive, healthy country needs health policy for all, not just the privileged,’ says Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) chief executive Alison Verhoeven.

The association says better solutions are needed to help those with chronic illness access affordable and well-integrated care, and a narrow focus on solutions led by private health insurers will not assist the millions of Australians who don’t have private health insurance.
‘While we are supportive of  the development of innovative strategies to achieve better patient outcomes, government policies must take into account the needs of all Australians, not only those who can afford private health insurance,’ Ms Verhoeven says.
‘The AHHA is supportive of the trials currently underway in Victoria and Western Australia which are aimed at the delivery of timely, cost-effective care to both privately insured and non-insured patients. ‘
‘However, it does not support programs where those belonging to one private health insurance fund are given priority access rights to GP services over patients whose needs may be greater but who can’t afford private health cover, or have purchased insurance from another provider.’
‘This has the potential to build a healthcare system which creates an even larger gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ than already exists, and where those who do not have the means to afford private health insurance are increasingly likely to experience poorer health outcomes. It directly contradicts the notion of universal access to quality healthcare which underpins Australia’s health system,’ says Ms Verhoeven.
‘All providers in the Australian health system have a role to play in supporting integrated care for patients.  Medicare Locals and their successor Primary Health Networks will have an especially important role to play in ensuring primary care is well-integrated into the broader health system, and that care is focused on the needs of the chronically ill, and other people with complex care needs.’
‘The AHHA values the interest of private health insurers in getting this right for their policy holders, though the challenge rests with the Health Minister to get this right for all Australians, not just those with the means to pay, ‘ says Ms Verhoeven.
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