Catholic Health backs Labor's Medicare Gold refinement

Francis Sullivan, CEO of Catholic Health Australia, yesterday gave his backing to a Labor proposal to revamp its Medicare Gold policy under which the government would assume responsibility for health and aged care needs for all people aged over 75 years old.

According to the The Australian, Catholic Health Australia (CHA) was previously a strong backer of the original Medicare Gold proposal in 2004 which was developed by the Labor Party from a CHA proposal originally presented to both the government and the opposition.

Mr Sullivan offered his support to the new model because "being able to shift people to more appropriate care is not only important, it is based on their dignity."

"This is the type of innovation that the Commonwealth and the states, through the Council of Australian Governments, could trial right now in an attempt to do something positive for the elderly," he said.

The Australian reports that the revamp of Labor's Medicare Gold health policy includes new specialist hospitals for thousands of elderly people to prevent them clogging public hospitals.

The objective is to dramatically shorten public hospital waiting lists and eliminate up to $500 million a year worth of wastage of resources.

It would mean relocating thousands of frail old people who tie up public hospital beds because they cannot access residential aged care.

The policy was criticised because it did not cap funding and was scrapped after the election.

Ms Gillard, Medicare Gold's architect, told the Australian that because states ran public hospitals and the Commonwealth funded nursing homes, the Government routinely under-funded aged care, knowing aged people unable to find nursing home care would wind up in public hospitals.

Labor wanted to end this "mother of all cost shifts" to end wastage of resources.

"The problem is still with us and there's more ways of fixing it than going down the single-funder track," she said.

"If you are going to take the pressure off public hospitals you want them properly staffed.

"But we also want them to be dealing with the things they are supposed to be dealing with - not the GP-style complaints and not offering accommodation to people who could and should be in some type of residential aged care."

Labor puts aged-care polish on Medicare Gold (The Australian 9/8/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Health Australia
Gold-class treatment for lobbyist (The Age 1/10/04)

Labor embraces vision of Catholic Health (CathNews 31/10/04)
Catholic Health says Medicare Gold 'tips the scales' (CathNews 7/10/04)
Strong Catholic Health support for Labor's Medicare Gold Card (CathNews 30/9/04)

9 Aug 2006