President’s Report – Year in Review
Chris Rex, APHA President
We have come to the end of another busy year for the APHA.
At the outset and following the passage of the means testing legislation last year, we were threatened with further changes to the private health insurance rebate – stripping the rebate from the Lifetime Health Cover surcharge and, from 2014, indexing overall rebate increases in line with the consumer price index rather than higher premium rises. Despite many representations to all sides of politics about the negative consequences of these proposals, both changes unfortunately passed in 2013.
However there was some upside to our lobbying efforts with the APHA seeking and receiving commitment from the Coalition to reinstate the private health insurance rebate if they won the election. We look forward to a time when this measure becomes affordable.
The impasse in relation to funding of chemotherapy drugs was also a major concern during the year given the increasing role of private hospitals and day clinics in providing chemotherapy services. In response to extensive lobbying by the APHA and other stakeholders, an allocation of $29.5 million was provided for chemotherapy funding which provided an increase of $60 per infusion from 1 July for six months. The APHA made an extensive submission to the review of chemotherapy funding arrangements and the new health minister Peter Dutton has recently told Parliament that some certainty will soon be provided in this matter.
The change of government in September heralds a new era and new opportunities. Over the last few months the APHA has already commenced positive discussions with this government regarding a range of issues including driving greater growth in private health insurance membership and curbing the heavily subsidised growth in provision of services to private patients in public hospitals. With the increasing moves towards contestability of public hospital services in various states, APHA will also make representations to government that this will enable government to purchase more efficient services, respond more flexibly to growth in service demand and reduce pressure on capital programs.
Another successful APHA Congress was held in March. The change of season seemed to suit the attendees and hence, the 2014 Congress will also be held in March – this time in Brisbane. Registrations are now open and I would encourage you to attend.
The fourth successful Private Hospital Week was conducted during the year providing an opportunity for hospitals to connect with their local communities and highlight the valuable role they play in these communities. The benefits of this campaign are to remind us of the huge role that private hospitals play in Australia’s balanced health care system and I commend the secretariat for their work and members for their ongoing participation in this important initiative.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the APHA Board Richard Royle, Geoff Sam, Philip Currie, Christine Gee, Danny Sims, Anne Crouch, Alan Cooper and Robert Cooke for their time and efforts during the year.
I would also like to recognise those members of Council who resigned this year: Nick Warden from Burnside War Memorial Hospital in South Australia and Bronwyn Mace from Epworth Freemasons in Melbourne. Thank you for your contribution to the private hospital sector as Council Members of APHA.
The work of the APHA would not be possible without our sponsors and to this end, thank you to our Diamond Sponsor Hesta and all our major sponsors who have remained supportive of the APHA right throughout the year.
Finally but not least, thank you to the APHA secretariat without whom our work would be very difficult indeed. Yet again, this team has excelled in their role supporting the advocacy work of private hospitals. We have been very fortunate to have such a stable and strong team at our disposal. I would personally like to thank Michael, Lisa and Lucy for their support and guidance throughout the year.