Primary Health Care 10 Year Plan – concerns about lack of consultation
Painaustralia has expressed concern about the lack of consultation for people in chronic pain on a significant Australian Government policy change in relation to certain MBS funded services including telehealth under the new 10 year primary healthcare plan.
The proposed change would see patients needing to register with a primary practice (Voluntary Patient Registration) in order to access MBS funded services.
If implemented well, it could reward outcomes-focussed quality health care and penalise low value patient care.
However, shifting away from fee for service to a blended payment model that rewards quality of care and outcomes is ONLY available to the registered population of patients.
While on the surface there are some obvious advantages to this model of care, when it comes to people living with chronic pain, we are concerned that there may be an incentive for practices to ‘cherry pick’ by registering less costly and less complex patients. These are unlikely to be those living with chronic pain conditions and those who are disadvantaged (often they are both) who require complex care and for which outcomes can be difficult to achieve and measure.
Another concern is whether the needs of people with chronic pain will be specifically recognised in the funding reforms. It’s easy to see how the current disease-based definitions of complex chronic conditions can too readily focus on clearly defined individual diseases such as diabetes or coronary heart disease while overlooking chronic pain (despite high prevalence and multimorbidity) which could fall between the cracks if it is not considered a ‘disease’ in its own right.
While the Department of Health stated it had set up consultation with some peak health groups, Painaustralia and other groups were not aware such considerable changes were proposed until the health minister, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, released a media statement with a four week turn around for submissions.
Painaustralia strongly believes that before any Voluntary Patient Registration is established, a broad communications campaign needs to be carried out to enable public discussion and educate and inform people living with chronic pain and those most likely to be impacted.
Our submission to the Government can be found here