POSITIVE POLICY

Reforming Australia’s Healthcare System

A Shorten Labor Government will establish a permanent Australian Healthcare Reform Commission to assist all levels of government to continuously improve our healthcare system.

Within the Commission, Labor will establish a new Centre for Medicare and Healthcare System Innovation. The Centre will develop, trial, evaluate and implement new payment and service delivery models that aim to reduce health expenditure while improving the quality and safety of care. The Centre will also take over the responsibilities of the MBS Review.

Unlike the Liberals, Labor commits to ensuring that where there are any savings realised, they will be reinvested by the Centre into healthcare system innovation including new models of primary care.

Labor has a long history of reforming Australia’s healthcare system for the benefit of all.

It is thanks to the work of successive Labor governments over the past 70 years that Australia boasts a world-class healthcare system. 

But Australia’s healthcare system is under increasing strain.  Rising rates of chronic disease, an ageing population and the Turnbull Government’s reckless cuts are threatening the universality and sustainability of our system. 

There are also growing health disparities within our population:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience a higher burden of ill health that is two and a half times that of other Australians.
  • A 2014 review of mental health programs and services found that distressed and vulnerable people are often dealing with a system that is difficult to navigate and doesn’t always consider their education, employment, housing, and physical health care needs.
  • People with physical disabilities and those who live in regional, rural and remote Australia continue to lag unacceptably behind.

Healthcare reform shouldn’t just be a term used by a government seeking to make cuts to healthcare. 

If our healthcare system is to meet the changing and increasing healthcare needs of all Australians, we must have a continuing process of policy and program development, implementation, evaluation and monitoring.

Much like the successful National Health and Hospitals Commission, the new Commission will have a key advisory role.  It will investigate, develop and evaluate proposed changes to Australia’s health system, and advise governments (including State and Territory Governments) on these changes.

The Australian Healthcare Reform Commission will also have a strong implementation capacity. It will be tasked to roll out agreed structural reforms to Australia’s healthcare system, including funding agreements and payment systems.

The Australian Healthcare Reform Commission will embed reform in Australia’s healthcare system, by focussing on:

  • Preserving universality.
  • Reducing inequality.
  • Eliminating waste and duplication.
  • Integrating services.
  • Improving the collection and use of data and analytics.

The establishment of the Australian Healthcare Reform Commission and the Centre for Medicare and Healthcare System Innovation will ensure that we embed a constant process of reform in our healthcare, so that our world-class system can continue to meet the healthcare needs of Australians well into the future.

The Commission will be created through the consolidation of the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, the National Health Funding Body, and functions formerly associated with the Australian National Preventive Health Agency, Independent Hospital Pricing Authority, National Health Performance Authority and Health Workforce Australia which have been transferred to other agencies.