Consumer body finds Labor scores best, but is disappointed no party has taken up the call for a single PBS/MBS safety net
This week the Consumers Health Forum (CHF) released its scorecard measuring how each major party’s health policies rate against its platform.
Labor scored best on out-of-pocket costs and moderately well across primary care and preventive health. According to the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA), Labor ticks all the boxes when it comes to health policies. The party has come out in support of universal healthcare, long-term healthcare funding, quality outcomes, innovation, and working with states and territories.
While the Coalition scored well on health insurance reform in the CHF report, it failed to register a score in out-of-pocket costs and preventive health. The party has consistently rated poorly due to its freeze on Medicare rebates and lack of a long-term suicide prevention strategy.
The Greens scored strongest on health system efficiencies but poorly on health insurance and mental health. Meanwhile, it is the only party calling for a sugar tax and restoration of the Child Dental Benefits Schedule.
So far, none of the parties have come out in support of a single safety net across PBS and MBS items, a measure the CHF has been calling for this election.
“We are disappointed that none of the parties have taken up our call for a single safety net for PBS and MBS items,” says CEO of the Consumers Health Forum, Leanne Wells.
“We do understand that there are technical obstacles in developing a single safety net given the ageing information technology that processes PBS and MBS data. However, it is reasonable for consumers to expect a simple, streamlined “one-stop shop” when it comes to their health safety nets.
“At the moment the safety nets for Medicare and prescribed medicines operate under different criteria and systems, making it difficult for consumers to keep track of their overall costs and eligibility status.
“The PBS safety net is recorded at the pharmacy level, not centrally, and a first step would be to change that. Developing a single safety net would deliver an additional benefit of encouraging an integrated and equitable approach to co-payments.
“Given the Federal Government is planning to modernise Medicare and PBS IT systems, now is the time to be planning for a 21st century safety net system,” says Ms Wells.