Questions are being asked about whether there is a pattern of inconsistency emerging. First we have evidence, as per the previous post, that the Government is planning something quite different for the National Preventive Health Agency than what the experts have recommended for it.
Now compare and contrast the following two statements – the first from Minister Roxon and the second from the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission.
Minister Roxon’s media release “Investing in the Health Workforce – Backing Our Doctors, Nurses and Midwives”
“The Government will recognise the valuable role and skills that nurses bring to the health system and to the broader community through:
· providing access to the MBS and PBS for nurse practitioners, at a cost of $59.7 million over four years. This will improve the flexibility and capacity of Australia’s health workforce, and improve patient access to services; and
· providing eligible midwives access to the MBS and PBS for the first time, expanding choice for women, at a cost of $66.6 million over four years.
These measures will improve the flexibility of the health workforce, and facilitate better access to services for patients.”
From the NHHRC Interim report “A Healthier Future For All Australians” (p104):
“We are not proposing that nurse practitioners or other health professional services be directly eligible for fee-for-service rebates under Medicare. Under current arrangements, simply adding additional professionals whose service would be eligible for rebates under Medicare would increase the total volume of services covered by Medicare and significantly increase total outlays, with the benefit and distribution of care in terms of improving health of the population unlikely to be commensurate with the increase in outlays.”
Nor does the Budget seem to put much account by the National Primary Health Care Strategy now under development, although a draft is expected to be ready for the Minister soon.
So many have been working so hard to help set the Government on the road to meaningful health reform. The NHHRC, for one, is staying mum on how closely the Government is listening. This is its version of a “no comment” response when asked about the above discrepancy.
Said a spokesman: “The NHHRC Interim Report was an ‘interim’ report. The Commission’s recommendations to the Government will be in its Final Report, which is due by end July 2009.”