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In 2007 significant changes to PBS pricing arrangements were made, including creation of separate pricing formularies, price reductions, price disclosure and changes to the pharmacy mark-up structure. A review of these changes indicated that they have achieved a positive impact on patients and a modest reduction in PBS expenditure. Indications for significant savings from the reforms in the future are positive but, given the likely increase in demand, the cost of the PBS will continue to grow.
The Australian Government's response to the global financial crisis has been dramatic. It has made substantial one-off payments to most families and increases in infrastructure spending on education and transport. Health has, by and large, not received stimulus spending, but instead has been the target of savings, designed to help return the budget to surplus in the medium term. In this report we focus on the biggest health savings measure; changes to the private health insurance rebate.
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.
The Australian Government has committed to the development of the country's first National Primary Health Care (PHC)Strategy. An External Reference Group has produced a Discussion Paper, intended to provide a broad framework and basic information on key issues for PHC. It proposes 10 elements which could underpin a future PHC Strategy. A snapshot of each element is used to ask what happens now, what this means for community, consumers, health professionals, where could changes be made?
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.
The Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme (PBS) provides public subsidies for prescribed medicines in Australia. To date the cost of evaluating, pricing and listing of medicines and vaccines on the PBS or the National Immunisation program (NIP) has been funded by taxpayers. The Commonwealth Government wants to introduce application fees and thereby recover the costs associated with the services and activities related to listing of medicines in the PBS or designated vaccines for the NIP.
Since 1997, the Australian Government has been running budget surpluses. Initially, surpluses were used to pay off public debt, but since 2006 the government has been debt free. Since then, a number of funds in which to invest future surpluses have been established. The aim of these funds is help meet future government liabilities. In the last year, one such fund has been established in the field of health care. This report details the purpose of this fund.
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.
In 2004, the Australian Commonwealth Government announced for the first time that Medicare would cover dental procedures. Subsidies for private dental care and Medicare rebates for dental services for people with a chronic condition were introduced in 2004 (See Survey No.5 2005). However data showed that the level of referrals under this plan and uptake of this measure fell short of government expectations.