As more of us head home from holidays and start back at work for the year, it is timely to turn our thoughts towards the health policy landscape for 2015 and to share our own individual commitments to improve health care within our spheres of influence.
As you can see from the following piece, when Croakey contributors were asked their predictions for health policy in the year ahead, and to nominate the pledges they plan to make for ChangeDay, there was a wide array of responses. Insightful, diverse, innovative, creative, engaging and controversial – these predictions and commitments reflect what Croakey is all about and herald another year of robust and vibrant debate within this space.
Thanks for being a Croakey reader and we look forward to your continuing input in 2015!
Q: What is your prediction for health policy in Australia for 2015?
More thought bubbles, more regressive ideology – NO policy (as in 2014).
Stephen Leeder, Emeritus Professor, University of Sydney
A focus on connections: health and environment; wellbeing and prosperity; information and good-decisions; trust and trustworthiness. You can’t have one without the other.
Marie Bismark, University of Melbourne
Not sure but just hoping for any improvements on the approach we saw last year!!!
Health promotion practitioner who wishes to remain anonymous
Private health insurance funds (like BUPA) will continue their campaign to open primary health care up to private markets and so break the universality of Medicare
Fran Baum, Flinders University
Budget pressures cause Commonwealth, state and territory governments to define their own areas of responsibility, leaving important areas unresolved and only partially funded.
Tarun Weeramanthri, WA Chief Health Officer
State governments will provide greater leadership in health policy.
Mark Harris, UNSW
Stronger focus on outcomes and action on productivity in Federal/State relations.
Jeanette Ward, public health consultant, Adjunct Professor, University of Ottawa
The headlines will continue to be dominated by copayments. The government will come under increasing pressure as people are charged more to see a GP and get less back from Medicare. The Senate will move a disallowance motion, and we will be back to being stuck. This will be discussed as if it is health policy, but it’s just a copayment policy. (Oh, what I’d give for a debate on health policy!)
We’ll see Primary Health Network Tenders and it will become clearer what they are supposed to do – watch this space closely for involvement in measure on Indigenous health (especially care co-ordination) and mental health, as there could be big gaps left in these areas.
We’ll also see the Department of Health take on GP training and lots of uncertainty about what will happen after Regional Training Providers, who will be tendering to replace them and whether the GP Colleges will have a direct role.
Tim Senior, GP and Wonky Health columnist
If the co-payment goes through, even at the lower level, I fear for what that means for access to primary health care, especially for the most disadvantaged. However, I also have hopes that this won’t go ahead and that sense will prevail.
Ginny Barbour, PLOS medicine editorial director
The government will continue to reconsider its unpopular health policies from the last budget.
Julie Leask, School of Public Health, University of Sydney
Look at America’s health system and weep.
Amanda Wilson, University of Newcastle
We will go backwards some more then chuck a U-ey and go forwards again.
Lea McInerney, writer, facilitator, strategic planner
Well under Malcolm Fraser we had Medibank marks 2, 3 and 4. We’re only up to number 2 with Tony so I expect at least one more co-payment iteration before the whole thing collapses or they lose the next election.
Margaret Faux, a lawyer, the founder and managing director of one of the largest medical billing companies in Australia and a registered nurse. She is a research scholar at the University of Technology Sydney
Notwithstanding likely funding constraints, I think we’ll see further reliance on civil society, NGOs and charities to meet community need. There is clearly a push toward “little government”, and “shared responsibility”, which means grass roots providers will continue to be asked to do more with less.
In public health, we’ll see even greater emphasis on individual responsibility, particularly with regard to alcohol and obesity.
We’ll also witness increased use of behavioural nudges. Behavioural economics is a useful tool, but more complex health-related behaviours need holistic approaches that address structural and downstream determinants of behaviour.
Luke van der Beeke, Managing Director, Marketing for Change
Not good. The causation of illness, particularly for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will continue a blame the victim mentality and be driven by economics.
Dameyon Bonson, Indigenist – Advocate of Indigenous Genius, Indigeneity and Wellbeing
I expect improved policies in the areas of early childhood, child care, and kindergarten and primary school transitions, as the research evidence and translation of this evidence into practice continues and becomes even more compelling.
Ross Green, health communicator, Melbourne
The year of Private Health Insurers.
Marie McInerney, journalist, editor, Croakey moderator
Little attention to important underlying issues of health and health care, and a lot of symbolic huffing and puffing. A slow start for Primary Health Networks. Further steps towards the market for issues for which it does not have a solution.
Gawaine Powell-Davies, UNSW
I hope that we will see the promised white paper on federalism to start a really positive national conversation about how to resolve the currently chaotic way that health policy and funding (and several other crucial policy areas like education) are split between the states and the Commonwealth. It would be great to really examine how this can work more effectively. However, I predict it will be very difficult to get a conversation like that going…
Tom Symondson, Acting Chief Executive of the Victorian Healthcare Association
That the Australian public will make clear that they value the opportunity for all Australians to access appropriate health care and that they do not wish to see health service provision reduced to an economic debate. Back peddling from the Federal Government should then ensue.
Michelle Hughes, Croakey moderator
Continued Senate slogging that will not stop their destructive bent.
Eliza Metcalfe, health communicator
Not good. I think we’ll see further selling out and undermining of evidence based policy
Peter Miller, Principal Research Fellow / Commissioning Editor Addiction, Deakin University
A gender and equity lens will be applied to all government policy…
Kristine Olaris, CEO, Women’s Health East, Melbourne
Q: What pledge will you be making for ChangeDay?
To hear patients’ voices even when they whisper.
To do what I can in medical publishing to get patients’ voices heard there.
We will likely commit to engagement of our staff in new Aboriginal Cultural Learning Program.
Tarun Weeramanthri, WA Chief Health Officer
Raising health literacy
To advocate for more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander executive, leadership, managers and key decision makers in health.
Regular donation to the People’s Health Movement (http://www.phmovement.org/en/phm/donate ) to keep it as a viable progressive and independent voice for global health justice
Advocate for refugee and asylum seeker health.
To join/contribute/create a national health communication special interest group.
Talk and write more about end-of-life care.
I will continue to advocate for universal access to public healthcare.
I will power through my PhD in the hope that I can provide useful information to policy makers to help them responsibly modernise Medicare before they make more of a guff of it than they already have.
Let’s just take stock here. Change Day “is all about each one of us making a pledge to take ongoing action to improve health, aged and community care outcomes for everyone”. I reckon for people like me on the public payroll, taxpayers expect every day is ChangeDay.
Not sure – hope to give this some thought while walking the Overland Track in February!