Health Issues Centre is currently working with partners on campaigns focusing on three areas:
Australian Health Care Reform Alliance
The Australian Health Care Reform Alliance (AHCRA) is a coalition of organisations representing consumers and health care providers advocating for a fairer and more effective health care system. Health Issues Centre is a member of AHCRA and our CEO is on its Executive. The Consultations are being run by members of the AHCRA. AHCRA also has a website which explains its positions in more details and lists all member organisations.
In 2007 Health Issues Centre, in partnership with other members of the Australian Health Care Reform Alliance, undertook a consultation with 180 Australians around the country on the future of health care. Both the 2page summary and the final report can be accessed on the links below.
Conversations with Australians: The First Step - 2 page summary
Conversations with Australians: The First Step - 10 page report
Fiona Armstrong is the Chair of the Australian Health Care Reform Alliance. In an opinion piece published in The Australian on 12 April 2008, she argued that the principles published by the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission (NHHRC) recently are positive and may provide a good foundation for the health system in Australia. But, she argues, "the difference between theory and action can be vast, and there is much to improve about our health system if we are to have any hope of providing uniformly quality services and decent health outcomes for all Australians".
On 13 September 2007, the Centre for Policy Development published an article by Rod Wilson, Victorian Medicare Action Group; Tony McBride, Health Issues Centre; and Tim Woodruff, Doctors Reform Society. The article describes the steps required by Australian governments to create integrated and accessible primary healthcare teams at a local level.
On the 30 and 31 July 2007, the Australian Health Care Reform Alliance (AHCRA) held a National Summit in Canberra.
The Summit aimed to:
Health Issues Centre played a central role in this very successful Summit. Not only did the event create considerable media interest in the need for reform, but also consensus on the key elements for reform. See media release for further details. Further details are also available at www.healthreform.org.au
Tony McBride, Health Issues Centre's CEO, also presented the results of a small scale consultation with consumers across four states from Far North Queensland to Perth to Melbourne. The results showed that community members/health consumers valued accessibility, especially affordability, as the key requirements of a good health system. Quality of care and the need to focus more on prevention also rated highly.
The AHCRA held a two-day workshop in Adelaide on 16-17 November 2005, for which papers were prepared on seven topics. Health Issues Centre was involved in the development of a paper on the need for dialogue with citizens and consumers about the future of the Australian health system. A brief summary of the paper is also available.
On 12 July 2006, the AHCRA produced a media release concerning the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).
On 28 July 2006, Kerren Clark on behalf of the AHCRA, delivered an Opening Statement to the ACT Public Accounts and Estimates Committee that outlined four key strategies for reducing hospital waiting lists.
The National Oral Health Alliance is a broad grouping of organisations concerned about inadequate oral health services in Australia. These groups included the following consumer, professional and community organisations:
National Oral Health Advocacy Day
On 20 March 2007, 85 people representing 35 National Oral Health Alliance member organisations from every state and territory, headed to Canberra to meet with Federal Members of Parliament on oral health. (Health Issues Centre sent two consumers to the Day). While the Federal Government has argued that it has limited jurisdiction over oral health, the Alliance has called for national leadership to target those most in need of affordable dental care.
In back-to-back meetings with over 30 parliamentarians of all parties, members of the community and welfare sector, together with colleagues in the oral health professions, asked parliamentarians to fix the problems in Australia’s oral health. The delegations were well received and there was evident concern among many politicians. Tony Abbott and Nicola Roxon, as well as the leaders of the Australian Greens and Australian Democrats, each spoke to the Alliance about their approach to Australia’s oral health problems.
The National Oral Health Alliance is closely monitoring developments in the lead up to the Federal Budget on 8 May 2007. A copy of a Fact Sheet, Media Release and Position Statement are available.
In the lead up to the federal election in October 2004, the Alliance wrote to the major political parties seeking their response to a set of questions regarding their parties' commitment to improving oral health services for Australians. The Alliance then published a Report Card and Campaign Kit to inform consumers about the parties' positions. The Report Card summarised the major parties' policy responses on seven key aspects of oral health policy. No response was received from the Australian Liberal Party despite several requests. However, current government spending is summarised in the accompanying Fact Sheet. The Card also described what the Alliance thought were reasonable goals for each of these seven aspects.
The Campaign Kit material used in 2004 were: a Draft letter for organisations or individuals to write to newspapers or local federal politicians, and a Media Release.
Health Issues Centre is also working with other members of the Victorian alliance to visit some key Victorian Ministers and their advisors before the budget to speak to the budget submission the alliance sent in a couple of months ago. For further information go to: www.voha.org
If your organisation would like to join the Victorian Oral Health Alliance, please contact Tony McBride, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Victorian Medicare Action Group (VMAG)
Health Issues Centre is a member of this coalition of organisations and people from community health, women's health, social services, consumer groups, health service providers and individuals who are concerned about Medicare. The group was very active and vocal when the rate of bulk billing for general practice was declining in recent years. A report, The Bulk-Billing Crisis: A Victorian Perspective was published on this decline in 2000-2004 by VMAG. It provides maps and tables of the bulk-billing rates for general practitioners in every Victorian electorate and is intended to stimulate debate in communities on the implications of these trends.
VMAG's activities contributed to the pressure by a range of groups around Australia in 2003-2004 which led to significant increases in Medicare funding that have seen bulk-billing rates increase again. The group is currently keeping a watching brief on these rates.
If you would like more information, please contact Tony McBride at Health Issues Centre.
Earlier Analyses of Medicare
This section is an archive of some earlier analyses of the actual and proposed changes to Medicare during 2002-2005.
This was the second of the Federal Government's policy responses to declining bulk-billing rates in 2004 after the earlier Fairer Medicare was seen as inadequate by the health and consumer sectors. Health Issues Centre's response to Medicare Plus was written by Greg Ford and analyses both packages. This measure also introduced the safety net concept, a measure that Health Issues Centre and the Victorian Medicare Action Group are concerned will lead gradually to a two-tier health system that will institutionalise inequality in access to health care.
The Future for Medicare
In an article in DISSENT (Number 11, Autumn/Winter 2003), Charles Livingstone and Greg Ford examined Medicare. The authors argue that despite a perceived 'crisis', there is a strong future for Medicare. Livingstone and Ford examine the current threats to Medicare and discuss a number of immediate reforms that would strengthen Medicare.
Private Health Insurance
Through the 30% Rebate, Australian taxpayers subsidise the cost of private health insurance by over $2 billion per year. Health Issues Centre's response to this Rebate is writtten by Greg Ford.