Commission of Audit recommends health system run by bean counters

8 May 2014

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said last week that the health recommendations proposed by the Commission of Audit would put health, medical and pharmaceutical care out of reach for Australian families. He said the Commission’s proposed health system undermines the principle of universal access to health care.

“It is clear that the Commission’s recommendations have been put forward by business leaders and bureaucrats with no input from people with health and medical expertise. It is a health system designed by bean counters for bean counters. It puts saving money ahead of saving lives,” Dr Hambleton said.

It is shifting more and more health costs on to patients, including the most vulnerable – working families, the elderly, and the chronically ill. The co-payment, as proposed, could see vulnerable groups abandon or delay visits to the doctor. This would ultimately cost the health system more as these patients would eventually require much more expensive hospital treatment. The only good thing about the Commission’s health recommendations is that they will be easy for the Government to reject them – and the AMA will be urging the Government to do so.

The AMA is ready to consult with the Government on informed structural reform of the health system,” Dr Hambleton said.

The AMA also has concerns about other Commission recommendations including:

  • the proposal to merge Health Workforce Australia and GPET with the Department of Health and Ageing, which would undermine the capacity to undertake essential medical workforce planning to ensure the community has access to the right number of doctors in the right places;
  • winding back changes to the medical indemnity insurance industry that were implemented by the Prime Minister when he was Health Minister;
  • task substitution – allowing other professions to do the work of doctors; and
  • scaling down the National Disability Insurance Scheme.