Like recent years passed, 2015 continued to see major reforms rolled out in the health, aged care and disability sectors. In many cases these reforms were designed to provide greater control in the hands of the recipient and also reflected increasing concern by Government around the escalating cost of providing these services.
In this respect, the Intergenerational Report, which was released earlier this year, warned of the mounting pressure of health services on the budget, projecting that per capita health spending is expected to double by 2055. Of course, this reinforces the existing burden on our health and aged care systems, which currently represents 18.5 per cent of government expenditure, but according to Treasury estimates is expected to almost double to 33 per cent by 2050.
In aged care the move to consumer directed care is creating significant consternation within the sector by throwing up both challenges and opportunities. The precise response to these changes by service providers is still very much to be determined but there is no doubt that the medium to long term implications could be substantial.
Similarly the on-going roll out of the NDIS is very much a work in progress with Queensland soon to be added to the pilot. In this space mental health has received renewed focus as reflected by the Federal Government’s response to the Mental Health Commission’s recent review.
At a State level, some of the more interesting reforms relate to the different funding models that are being considered to support service delivery. Reflecting the recent report by the Federal Department of Health that $15 billion is wasted each year on ineffective programs, marginal treatments and avoidable errors, it is likely that this is only the beginning of what could be an extended period of reform in an attempt to identify funding mechanisms which deliver improved efficiency and outcomes. Ultimately the Federal and State Governments will also need to look at how best to fund a fragmented system to reduce the inefficiency of running large and overlapping health departments