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The Medicare Safety Net, introduced in 2004, supplements existing public insurance and offers additional coverage for families with high medical costs. A 2009 review found that the policy reduced out-of-pocket costs for some patients, but also led to significant increases in doctors' fees. Furthermore, the greatest beneficiaries of the Safety Net were families with high incomes. Here we will summarise key findings and examine government and stakeholder responses to the review.
On the 30th of June 2009 the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission (NHHRC) released its final report. In total the report contained 123 recommendations grouped into four themes. One of the most radical and perhaps controversial suggestions is to develop a ?single health system? through a new Health Australia Accord. The new governance model has been named Medicare Select and will be the focus of this report.
As part of an overhaul of the current healthcare system, a proposal has been released to introduce a AUS$4 billion universal dental scheme. The proposed scheme to be called ?Denticare? would be funded through a taxpayer levy and would provide access to preventative and restorative care and dentures.
The National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission (NHHRC) released its interim report. NHHRC was created by the Government to develop a long-term reform plan for the Australian Healthcare System. The Government envisaged it would provide a blueprint for tackling challenges such as the growing burden of chronic disease, population ageing, the rising costs of new technologies and the cost and inefficiencies generated by the ?blame game? - cost shifting between the Commonwealth and the States.
Australia has a sound safety record in maternity care but there are concerns that women have a lack of choice with respect to types of care they can access, and that good maternal health outcomes are not consistent across the country and population groups. As part of its election commitments, the new federal goverment promised to reform maternity services. As one of its first steps it conducted a review of maternity services. This survey reports on the outcomes of the review report.
In April 2008, the new Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, convened a summit to develop long-term policy options across 10 critical areas, including health and health care. The Summit brought together 1000 leading Australians to debate potential responses. The health stream developed over 120 separate ideas across the fields of prevention, workforce, inequalities, future challenges and opportunities and health research. This report will highlight some of the big ideas that arose from the summit.
In the lead up to the 2007 Federal election the then opposition party announced that it would support the establishment of so called "GP super clinics". The aims of these clinics are to firstly encourage general practitioners (GPs) to practice in parts of Australia where there are identified shortages. Secondly, the super clinics aim to deliver more services to the community including allied health services and place a stronger focus on preventive health services and chronic disease management.
In 2005/06 the Australian government committed AU$43 million to a national screening program for bowel cancer. The target population is individuals turning 55 or 65 years of age plus those previously involved in the pilot program. While funds have been allocated for recruitment and the initial screening test, including the formation of a register, no specific additional funds have been allocated for the follow-up health care required by those who are identified as having a positive screen.
A number of States in Australia are providing information to the public about average waiting times for elective procedures. The policy is being publicised as a means for GPs and their patients to try to access surgery faster. In additon, elective surgery coordinators have been employed to improve scheduling and waiting list practices, including ensuring that individual patients are on one list and to investigate ways of reducing postponement of surgery.
One of the main characteristics of the Australian Health Care system is the division of responsibilities between the Commonwealth and State governments. The State, with diverse levels of financial assistance from the Commonwealth, are primarily responsible for the funding and operation of public hospitals. In August 2007 the Federal Government announced an unprecedented decision: to fully fund a small regional public hospital in the State of Tasmania.