Health will likely be buried amid the hot button 2013 federal election topics of asylum seekers, carbon tax and the economy, but that has not stopped our peak health and medical bodies stating their arguments for how health should be managed under any incoming government.
Issues ranging from PBS drug listings to chronic disease care, hospital funding and GP super clinics are just some of the key areas AMA president Dr Steve Hambleton has identified as requiring much better re-allocation of existing funding, especially given new funding is likely to be limited.
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), in 2010-11 health expenditure in Australia was estimated to be around $130 billion.
Faster PBS listing
Medicines Australia has released its 2013 federal election wish list and wants faster listing of medications on the PBS. In its Medicines Now election platform, MA outlined that it can take up to three years to have a medicine registered by the TGA and secure a cost effectiveness recommendation by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) for listing on the PBS.
“Some medicines still have not been listed on the PBS… after more than two years since they received a positive recommendation from the PBAC. Industry calls on the incoming government to expeditiously list these medicines, not least to benefit Australian patients in need of them,” the organisation said.
Medicines Australia says the industry is concerned that the number of new medicines being listed on the PBS is at an all-time low.
MA is calling on the incoming government to give the Minister for Health the authority to list medicines on the PBS where a medicine is expected to cost less than $20 million in any of its first four years after listing.
Dr Hambleton is also calling on the next government to “make a significant improvement to the productivity and efficiency of the medical workforce in Australia by removing the PBS Authority system.”
Obtaining an authority from the Department of Human Services can take GPs up to five minutes or sometimes more out of a patient consultation – time which could be better spent on patient care.
Medical research & program funding
In terms of medical research Labor has allocated funds, announcing a $226 million boost to cancer care in the May Budget and is the largest funder of cancer research. It included a boost to the Bowel Cancer Screening Program, offering HPV vaccinations to boys, funding for prostate cancer research, bone marrow transplants, CanTeen, lung cancer treatment and breast cancer.
The Coalition has meantime announced funding for a clinical trial network for type 1 diabetes and promised not to make any cuts to medical research funding.
Health policy in the future
In this election campaign health has definitely been glossed over. At a recent National Press Club address, Dr Hambleton reminded the audience that both Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott have got history in health. “Both of them had a vision for health, both of them made significant changes that actually – some – well, a lot of which we agreed with, a lot of which we supported the thrust of. But I think what we need to hear from now …is what they’re going to do from now on. The Australian population needs to understand and they know that health is an issue they very much care about.”