Sunday, March 30, 2014
Minister Dutton Is Being Very Quiet On E-Health. Wonder What This Means.
Health Minister Peter Dutton has been talking a lot this week.
First we had this:
The Minister for Health Peter Dutton delivered the keynote address at the Australian Private Hospitals Association National Congress in Brisbane on 24 March 2014.
Page last updated: 24 March 2014
PDF printable version of Australian Private Hospitals Association 33rd National Congress Keynote Address - PDF 340 KB
24 March 2014
Ladies and Gentleman, good morning and thank you for the introduction.
Thank you very much to Chris Rex for your words earlier and thank you Michael Roff also. We have developed, I think, over the years an excellent working relationship and I look forward very much to that continuing.
Thank you for meeting in my home town of Brisbane.
It’s really great to be here and I acknowledge the people today who have been pioneers in creating a sector that has played a pivotal role in building the Australian health system and those that continue the legacy today in the pace of today’s global economy that work continues to grow in importance and private hospitals in this country are, as most Australians know, world leaders.
So it is a pleasure to be here to open the 33rd National Congress.
The sector makes a major contribution to health and wellbeing of this country – providing Australian’s with more choice in the type of health care they can access while at the same time taking pressure off the public system, particularly public hospitals and emergency care.
Our world-class health system is as good as it is because it relies on a combination of private and public services. And like business, government can no longer just rely on increased funding for increased patient outcomes.
We need to be stripping costs, regulatory burden and bureaucratic nonsense from the process. We want to ensure patient safety and government can do that by helping to reduce the red tape industry that has been created in your sector under the guise of workplace health and safety, duplicative reporting requirements and the like.
But it is incumbent on all of us as taxpayers, as managers of the health system, as users of the health system and most importantly as deliverers of the health system, to make sure we deliver services in the most efficient way possible.
This is particularly the case given the Australian Government spending on health care has more than doubled in the past decade alone.
The discussion now must be about sustainability.
The $62 billion the Government currently spends each year on health will blow out another $13 billion over the next four years.
As a nation, we are spending around $120 a week on health care for each man, woman and child.
Over the past decade, Commonwealth spending on public hospitals is up 83 per cent and is projected to go up another 50 per cent over the next four years.
That’s why we started the discussion about the type of health system our nation needs to go forward with an ageing population and with the advent of many expensive medical technologies and costs beyond that.
We need to make sure that all aspects of our healthcare system remain strong and yet flexible enough to deal with future challenges – some of which are not so far into the future.
In closing let me say a couple of words about the economic legacy or mess that we inherited. We are six months into Government so we’re very much in the opening days of this term of government and already we’ve been able to correct some of the difficulties that we inherited, particularly around chemotherapy, around training and some other areas, but there is a lot of work to do.
I believe the future for your sector, but also for the way we deliver health services in a sustainable way is very bright.
I look forward to continuing building the relationship with the sector. I believe the private sector in this country, in particular private hospitals are held near and dear to all Australians and the Australian Government believes very strongly we will continue to build those relationships for the betterment of all Australians.
The full speech is here:
Second we had this interview.
Minister for Health Peter Dutton was interviewed on Sky News with Peter Van Onselen and spoke about Knights-Dames, Racial Discrimination Act, Medibank Private Sale and Health Reform.
Page last updated: 26 March 2014
26 March 2014
Topics: Knights-Dames, Racial Discrimination Act, Medibank Private Sale, Health reform.
Peter Van Onselen: Now let me ask you about Medibank Private. Mathias Cormann is announcing that it will be put up to public offering, that was a policy you took to the last election are you concerned about getting that through Upper House and are you also concerned about what that might do in terms of putting upward pressure on premiums perhaps, that’s what the Opposition claims is the case?
Peter Dutton: Well Peter I’ll answer the second part first. There are over 30 providers of private health insurance in Australia at the moment. Medibank Private has just under 30 per cent of the market share. So we’ve got a very mature marketplace.
They’ve now gone into businesses such as pet insurance, so for the Government to have some sort of financial interest in a pet insurance business, I just don’t think reaches the mark that most people would apply in the common-sense test in these instances.
I think the first point thought, in relation to the legislation. Of course the legislation was passed in 2006 and for all the years of the Rudd and Gillard and Rudd Governments, they never sought to abolish this particular proposal. So in actual fact Labor went to the last election with the legislation in place to allow the sale of Medibank Private. I think particularly given the level of debt we’ve inherited from the previous Labor Government – approaching an accumulated debt of $667 billion dollars, people realise that we have to make tough decisions.
The fact is there is a great maturity to the private health insurance market, 11 million Australians have health insurance and I want to make sure we can continue to keep downward pressure on prices so that we can have good coverage across the population. Nobody’s been able to mount the argument that the sale of Medibank Private in a mature marketplace with 30 odd providers of health insurance would dampen competition or provide anything by way of upward pressure on premiums.
Peter Van Onselen: And just finally Mr Dutton, can I just ask you about general reform in the health sector space.
There’s been a lot of speculation since Tony Abbott became Prime Minister about this; we haven’t yet seen the meat on the bones if you like of what is coming. Is there a lot to come in this space, by the time we look back on the first term of the Abbott Government will we be able to say that you were one of the serious reforming Ministers do you think?
Peter Dutton: Well Peter, I want to make sure we can strengthen and modernise Medicare. It’s a system that was devised in the 1970s and 1980s.
We know that this year we’ll spend about $62 billion – just the Commonwealth Government - as part of the $140 billion dollars per year that we spend in this country on health. We know that public hospital funding over the next four years will go up by 50 per cent having gone up by 83 per cent over the last 10 years.
We’ve had a 170 per cent increase in the number of Alzheimer’s sufferers. Two in three Australians are overweight or obese.
So there are enormous pressures coming down the line including the ageing of our population over the course of the next 10 or 20 years, so any changes that the Government makes will be to strengthen Medicare, to make sure that we can have a world class health system going into the future and I think that most Australians would accept that.
I want to make sure that we can provide all of those world class medicines, cancer medicines, the personalised medicines and genomic testing that we haven’t factored into the forward estimates costs yet, they are very important and people will expect us to pay for those and they will run into the billions of dollars in years to come; so we’ve got to have a sustainable system going forward. If we make changes in this space that’s what it will be about.
The full interview is here:
To me there are a few things that come from all this.
First the government is very worried about the rate of growth of health expenditure.
Second the government is very aware that in all developed countries the level of health cost inflation is a good deal higher that overall inflation.
Third just saying that Medicare has been around for 30+ years is hardly a reason for wholesale change if there is not evidence to support the change.
More importantly it is clear that after six months in Government there is no articulated strategy for health and health reform. This has to be a major worry in my view.
Additionally it is pretty apparent that e-Health is not seen by the Minister as any significant part of the solution to the rising health costs. Not any form of mention in both discussions or elsewhere recently.
The budget in six short weeks will be very interesting indeed!
Posted by Dr David G More MB PhD at Sunday, March 30, 2014