CHF is the peak organisation providing leadership in representing the interests of Australian healthcare consumers. We work to achieve safe, good quality, timely healthcare for all Australians, supported by the best health information and systems the country can afford.
Statement on Pharmaceutical Benefits Pricing Authority
12 March 2014 -
The Consumers Health Forum supports the Health Minister’s decision to dismantle the Pharmaceutical Benefits Pricing Authority if it means speeding up the listing of medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
“It appears the removal of the PBPA of itself should not impact negatively on the listing process,” says CHF spokesman, Mark Metherell.
“However the measure does remove a consumer representative from the overall PBS pre-listing process which we believe would be rectified by ensuring there is stronger consumer input on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee.
“Strengthening the consumer voice on the PBAC would be achieved by appointing a second consumer representative to the PBAC and enhancing the consumer submission process, by such measures as making provision for the PBAC to hear from patient groups directly,” Mr Metherell said.
CHF releases new report on Co-payments
4 March 2014 -
A new report about health co-payments has been released today by the Consumers Health Forum of Australia (CHF). CHF says the evidence shows that introducing co-payments for health care will hit the chronically ill and people on low incomes the hardest … and will fail to generate cost savings for the health system.
New CHF CEO Adam Stankevicius says CHF is responding to the call by the Health Minister, Peter Dutton, for a national conversation on making health care sustainable. “CHF wants to ensure any changes are evidence-based and are not at the expense of those most in need of care,” Mr Stankevicius said.
The release of the new report has gathered media interest, with articles sharing consumer stories and evidence on ABC, the Australian, Sydney Morning Herald, the Age, the Herald Sun, Radio National and broad national and regional coverage through radio interviews. Health Minister Peter Dutton and Opposition spokeswoman Catherine King have also responded to the report.
Medicare needs a revamp but letís not tax the sick
20 February 2014 -
The Consumers Health Forum welcomes the Health Minister’s call for a national discussion on how we pay for care but cautions against slugging patients with a new co-payment on top of the existing out of pocket costs.
“Many Australian families, older people and individuals with chronic conditions struggle now with a variety of health costs including, medicine bills, gap payments, allied health costs and ever-rising health insurance premiums,” says CHF spokesman, Mark Metherell.
“Such costs are like a hidden tax – inescapable if one needs the right treatment. In a country which is thought to have a universal health system, out of pocket health costs represent a barrier for many of those most in need and often least able to speak out, particularly the chronically ill,” says CHF.
“Mr Dutton is to be congratulated for canvassing the issue of how to pay for soaring health costs before the coming budget. We do need to overhaul Medicare and make the health system more cost effective.
Prime Minister: We eat and we vote!
14 February 2014 -
The Consumers Health Forum calls on the Prime Minister to put the interests of public health ahead of the self-interest of the food industry.
“The disclosure that the Assistant Health Minister’s chief of staff who ordered the shutdown of the star rating food label web site was a food industry promoter sends a disturbing signal that the Government has failed to recognise the best interests of Australians’ health,” CHF spokesman, Mark Metherell said.
“The Prime Minister needs to correct this state of affairs. He should act now to show the Government is serious about the promotion of a healthy diet at a time when too many Australians suffer the effects of eating too much unhealthy food.
“The star rating website is not a nanny state edict. It promotes a voluntary system that has frightened those companies with the most to lose from simple, at-a-glance labels that guide consumers on how to avoid unhealthy products,” Mr Metherell said.
Limiting medicine checks raises safety concerns
13 February 2014 -
New limits on patient medicine checks which raise safety concerns have been announced before two official reviews of the checks have been completed, the Consumers Health Forum says.
“The arrangements agreed to between the Federal Government and the Pharmacy Guild, will restrict the number of home medicine and aged care resident reviews that practitioners can undertake. This comes as new research underlines the importance of medicine reviews in preventing adverse drug reactions and even under-medication,” says CHF spokesman, Mark Metherell.
“Recent Adelaide research published in the Australian Health Review, found that 16 per cent of hospital admissions were related to adverse drug events. Many of these could have been avoided through medicine reviews,” Mr Metherell said.
CHF welcomes Minister Duttonís latest conversation on Medicare changes so long as co-payments remain off limits.
6 March 2014 -
The Consumers Health Forum has welcomed signs the Health Minister Peter Dutton is open to other kinds of Medicare payment systems besides fee for service.
“We welcome any form of payment to doctors that achieves better health outcomes for patients, particularly those with chronic and complex conditions. But we don’t think consumer co-payments should be part of this,” said the CEO of CHF, Adam Stankevicius.
“The problem with the fee for service system that Medicare currently finances, is that it rewards patient throughput but not health outcomes. Mr Dutton’s opening up of the conversation on blended payments which can be targeted at improving coordination and quality of care signals a worthwhile rethink of Medicare payment systems that is well overdue,” Mr Stankevicius said.
Expression of Interest for the Board of CHF
24 February 2014 -
Following the resignation of our former Chair, Karen Carey, The Consumers Health Forum of Australia Ltd (CHF) is seeking expressions of interest from appropriately skilled persons to fill a casual vacancy on the Board.
CHF is the national voice for health consumers. As an independent non-government organisation, CHF helps shape Australia's health system by representing and involving consumers in health policy and program development. CHF member organisations reach millions of Australian health consumers across a wide range of health interests and health system experiences.
More information can be found here.
Co-payments will hit those least able to afford them
18 February 2014 -
Medical co-payments too often hit those least able to afford them--- the aged and the chronically ill --- and should not be introduced when many billions could be saved by cutting waste and exorbitant costs in the health sector, the Consumers Health Forum has told the Senate inquiry into the Commission of Audit today.
“Australian consumers already face among the highest out of pocket health costs in the world. More than 10 per cent of Australians put off getting recommended medical care and medicines because of cost. Health insurance premiums have become an increasingly heavy burden forcing people to cut back on their cover,“ says CHF’s Director of Policy, Rebecca Vassarotti.
Ms Vassarotti told the Senate committee that many of the hundreds of people who have shared their health cost difficulties with the CHF have highlighted the disproportionate impact of co-payments on vulnerable people.
Hospital waiting times dilemma highlights need for change
14 February 2014 -
The failure of most states to rein in chronic hospital waiting lists, condemning thousands of patients to months and years of pain and anxiety, highlight the need for systemic change, says the Consumers Health Forum.
“The Australian Medical Association’s latest state of the public hospitals report show that most states fail to meet elective surgery and emergency waiting time targets, and services in some areas like public outpatient care are failing to keep pace with population growth,” CHF spokesman, Mark Metherell, said today.
“Experience has shown that paying for more of the same, which now seems beyond cash-strapped governments in any event, is unlikely to deliver long term improvement.
“There is scope for hospitals to be more cost effective by introducing more performance-related payments schemes and reducing waste in areas like hospital readmission rates.
“We welcome the AMA’s acknowledgement that the focus should be on primary care to keep people out of hospital
Medibank sale should deliver a health dividend
12 February 2014 -
The proceeds that would flow from the proposed sale of Medibank Private, estimated at $4 billion, provide the opportunity to deliver a lasting dividend for health consumers and remove any need for a Medicare co-payment, says the Consumers Health Forum.
“It would be equitable and reasonable for the Federal Government to reinvest the cash from the Medibank sale directly in to activity that directly benefits health consumers,” CHF’s spokesman, Mark Metherell said.
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