The Consumer Health Forum has demanded the Federal Government ensures that if it supports an extended range of services for pharmacists, any fee for service items must not be included in the Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement but instead be subject to assessment through the Medical Benefits Schedule process.
This request was submitted in the Forum’s pre-Budget submission.
The Federal Government should introduce further measures to accelerate price disclosure to ensure the price paid aligns with the market price of medicines, the Forum says.
It should also “adequately and transparently” fund Home Medication Reviews, with funding quarantined for that purpose with clear criteria for access, better program guidelines and improved monitoring of usage.
The CHF also wants the Government to reverse its decisions to reduce Medicare rebates for GP visits and freeze the indexation of Medicare rebates until 2018.
It wants the Government to urgently work with health consumers and professionals to consider mechanisms for addressing waste in health expenditure and actively engage in international price surveillance and comparisons for devices, medicines and prostheses.
The Federal Government should also give a long-term commitment with appropriate funding to implement electronic health records, the Forum says.
According to the CHF, this should include specific funding for: a rigorous security and privacy audit of the system; an education campaign for consumers and clinicians on the change to an opt-out model; changing the ePractice Incentive Payment (ePIP) to incentivise contribution of information to the electronic health record; and a scoping project to identify the options to encourage further take up of electronic transmission of data by specialist medical and allied health professionals and private practice.
The CHF asks the Federal Government to fund the development and implementation of consumer experience measures in the health system. The Australian Commission for Safety and Quality in Healthcare should develop a national framework and tools to support meaningful and evidence-based consumer experience evaluation measures consumer experience evaluation measures as part of the accreditation of processes for all health services, it says.
And dental care is also on the agenda, for children and adults though the public health system, as a new National Oral Health Promotion Plan.
An obesity strategy is also needed, CHF says. This would include moving as quickly as possible to make the new health food stars rating system compulsory for packaged food products; opposing the marketing of junk food to children on social media and outlawing advertising of these products during TV programs popular with children; including sports broadcasts; exploring a tax on sugar sweetened beverages; renewing and strengthening the national food reformulation program to reduce excessive sugar; and fat and salts in processed food.
The Federal Government should restore the $165.8m it cut from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs in the 2014–15 Budget and work with peak Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander bodies to ensure the funding is directed to the most critical health needs, CHF says.
And it calls for a merging of the Clinical and Consumer Advisory mechanisms, funding for structural engagement of consumers in the Primary Health Networks, and an inquiry into private health insurance prior to any structural reform of private health insurance takes place.