Commission of Audit pathway to reforming health care

The nation's largest network of non-government health and aged care services has backed the Commission of Audit's recommendation for the Health Minister to lead a 12-month review process to agree actions for the reform of Australia's health care system.

Catholic Health Australia CEO Martin Laverty, speaking on behalf of Catholic not-for-profit health and aged care services who care for one in 10 Australians in a hospital and aged care service, said there is urgent need for new health reform.

"The Commission was right to encourage the Health Minister to develop a framework to bring all aspects of the health system – public and private hospitals and community-based services – into a coordinated strategy to give better patient care," Mr Laverty said.

"The Commission was also right to encourage yet another look at how universal health coverage can be most effectively delivered, including whether this can be achieved under Medicare Select, the option of universal health insurance last proposed by the Bennett National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission in 2009.

"With a multitude of recommendations of the Bennett Commission not implemented, and now with even more health reform proposals arising from the Commission of Audit, the Health Minister should adopt recommendation 18 and develop a future health strategy.

"Non-government health and aged care providers, who deliver cost-efficient, high-quality services, are willing to roll up their sleeves and work with the Health Minister in determining a future health strategy.

"A future health care strategy should be built on principles of putting the needs of people – not the system – first. The strategy needs to be financially sustainable, but recognise the needs of the most disadvantaged within the community and not result in the creation of a two-tiered health system.

"A future health care strategy should also address drivers of chronic illness and avoidable hospital admissions by understanding that social factors contribute to a person's health and well-being. Action on social determinants of health will stem illness and future health costs," Mr Laverty said.

CHA also gave its support to most of the elements of Commission recommendation 25, which proposed changes to aged care access means testing and creating new ways for older people to access equity in their homes to meet aged care costs.

"Those who have capacity to contribute to their aged care costs will increasingly need to. The Commission's proposal to allow some older people to access equity in their homes to fund their care is one way in which quality aged care services can be provided," Mr Laverty said.

Mr Laverty said the Government should work in partnership with not-for-profit health and aged care providers in determining which of the Commission's recommendations should be adopted.

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