Reform favours the bold
Health reform in Australia ramped up in the first part of 2023 to coincide with the release of the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce Report by Minister for Health and Aged Care Mark Butler.
I think the minister’s language and tone indicate that health reform will be a slow and stepped process but one that he wants to see happen.
Just how bold the minister and the Albanese government are willing to be will become more evident next month when the May federal Budget is released.
The APA has been very consistent in its messaging for the past few years as we aim to persuade departments and governments around the country of the value of physiotherapy in a genuine health reform process.
That does not just mean a higher Medicare rebate for GPs or additional grants for capital improvements to medical practices or more incentives to treat chronic diseases.
Our most important message has always been that we need to improve access to safe and good quality healthcare, with minimal financial, geographic or other barriers, especially for our most vulnerable.
No Australian should be left behind or unable to access the care they require.
Physiotherapy provides safe, effective and quality management of so many conditions across the human life span.
This is evident in our Value of Physiotherapy in Australia report released a few years ago, in many domestic and international research pieces and in consumer reports.
Future of Physiotherapy in Australia: A 10-year vision policy white paper, which I launched at last year’s conference, clearly articulates what we are asking for on the pathway to better patient care.
We consistently put the patient at the centre of their journey through the healthcare system and provide solutions to ensure that they receive the care they need when they need
it and from the best practitioner.
Every time I meet with a politician, funder, department or stakeholder, the message is clear that we need to reduce barriers to access, use physiotherapists to our full scope of practice, improve the consumer journey and make more efficient use of the health spend.
It is not about pumping more money into Medicare, a system that we have consistently said is outdated and not fit for purpose any longer.
In The Age on 7 February this year, I gave the example that our health system will pay for a knee replacement but will not fund a preventive exercise program at a fraction of the cost.
This is not sustainable and it fails to meet consumer expectations.
Now is the time for the current government to show leadership and bring about true health reform for us all.
We have supplied Treasury with the APA’s pre-Budget submission, which clearly demonstrates that the consumer journey needs to be the central priority and that we need all health practitioners to start working to full scope of practice.
Funding preventive health is not a cost to the government but a significant investment that will return a measurable improvement in the health and wellbeing of all Australians.
We have written to ministers, influencers and departments reminding them of the value that physiotherapy can provide to the health system.
I’m sure you’ve seen the large amount of media exposure that the APA and the profession have received in response to the release of the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce Report.
We intend to keep up the pressure on the government until we see the reform that is necessary and long overdue.
Take care and stay safe.
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