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Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament

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Australian Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation Authority Amendment (New Governance Arrangements) Bill 2016

In view of the Bill’s passage through the House of Representatives on 22 November, and its listing for debate in the Senate on 24 November, this FlagPost has been published in lieu of a Bills Digest. Following the recommendations of a review conducted in 2015, the Australian Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation Authority Amendment (New Governance Arrangements) Bill 2016 (the Bill) proposes that the current Australian Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation Authority (OTA) Advisory Council be replaced by a governing Board that also assumes many of the responsibilities currently assigned to the OTA’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO).  Read more...

Managing the performance of the health care system

Performance of the health care system was put on the national agenda in 2010 when the then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd outlined his vision for the National Health and Hospital Network (NHHN). One of the features of the NHHN was improved reporting and performance standards. The precursor to this were the objectives, outcomes, progress measures and outputs that were agreed by the Council of Australian governments (COAG) in 2008 as part of the National Healthcare Agreement (NHA). Although aspects of the NHHN were re-negotiated, the commitment to improved transparency and accountability remained. The Performance and Accountability Framework agreed as part of the National Health Reform Agreement pr... Read more...

Is $325 million enough for Tasmania's health care system?

  Last week, after much speculation, the Federal Government announced that it would provide an extra $325 million over four years to Tasmania’s health care system. Previously the Tasmanian Government had announced cuts of up to $500 million over four years to the health care system, commencing from 1 July 2011. Many of these cuts were directed to elective surgery, reduced services and the closure of hospital beds. The most recent Tasmanian budget (May 2012) announced a reduction of the savings target by $120 million. Of the $325 million, only $31.2 million will be directed towards elective surgery with the majority of funding to be spent on better care in the community, improved discharge ... Read more...

What can be done about the growing cost of health care in Australia?

 The sustainability of Australia’s health system is becoming a key concern for Australian governments, along with those in many other advanced economies. But, with growing demand for high quality health care, an ageing population and rapid advances in medical technology, what can be done to keep a lid on health expenditure? This recently published Parliamentary Library Research Paper outlines the key mechanisms the Australian government has to control health care spending, and it proposes some potential options for reform. In a recent speech on the sustainability of the health system, the Finance Minister, Penny Wong, highlighted the problem policymakers now face: health care expenditure is ... Read more...

National Health Reform Agreement: what might it achieve?

After nearly four years in government, an 18 month independent inquiry into the health system, a Prime Ministerial listening tour of the nation’s hospitals, several fraught Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meetings and one unsuccessful attempt, the federal Labor Government has finally secured a health reform deal with all states and territories.The National Health Reform Agreement announced this week is essentially a detailed implementation plan for the Heads of Agreement on National Health Reform, which was negotiated at COAG in February 2011. Most commentators agree that the scope of reform has been scaled back over time. The reforms outlined in this Agreement and the earlier... Read more...

Paying for health care: how can we sustain it?

At budget time, the federal health minister has one of the toughest jobs. We got a glimpse into this a few weeks ago when the Government announced that it had decided to defer listing some new drugs on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme even though they work and have been deemed by experts to be cost-effective. The announcement sparked outcry from consumer groups and health care organisations alike.The Minister found herself in this unenviable position because the amount of money available to spend on health care is finite. This is not just a dilemma that arises at budget time however. Governments around the world are becoming increasingly concerned about how they will fund health care into... Read more...

Department of Health's FOI release - challenges ahead for health reform

Various government departments have made publicly available incoming government briefs that have been released under Freedom of Information. Despite sections of the briefs having been blacked out they provide an insight into the workings of government and the advice provided to Ministers in the post-election environment. The Department of Health and Ageing’s (DoHA) incoming government brief provides an overview of the health system and arrangements for implementing health reforms begun during the previous parliament. The brief also lists key decisions for the Minister to make in the first four months. Some of these decisions have been made and legislation has already passed, for example, the... Read more...

Perceptions of Australia's health care system

Perceptions of the health care system are difficult to measure and there is very little comprehensive information about how Australians perceive the heath care system. The Menzies Centre for Health Policy and the Nous group recently completed a survey (Menzies-Nous 2010 survey) on Australians' attitudes to the health care system. This is a repeat of the survey completed in 2008, on which the 2010 survey was based.The survey found that, on average, Australians are satisfied with the health care system. Satisfaction was highest with services provided by pharmacists, followed by private hospitals and specialist doctors. There is a high amount of confidence that the health care system would prov... Read more...

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