Catholic Health Australia has welcomed the Albanese Government’s announcement that health insurers will continue to pay for essential surgical items such as sutures and skin glues when reforms of a key funding list come into force.
Not-for-profit hospitals have faced months of uncertainty over how around 400 “general consumables” will be funded once they are removed from the prostheses list which dictates the surgical items that health insurance funds must pay for.
Health Minister Mark Butler and the Department of Health acted on the concerns of CHA members who have been warning that removing these items with no alternative funding arrangements would have dire consequences.
The 75 member hospitals that are part of the CHA network were facing a $100 million annual funding hole that would have forced them to stop offering economically unviable procedures to avoid financial losses.
Under the new system, a typical basket of the items used will be bundled together and funded per procedure rather than each individual item used being funded.
Mr Butler said insurers will still have to pay a minimum price to hospitals for each bundle used.
CHA Health Policy Director Caitlin O’Dea said the announcement was a sensible decision.
“Our member hospitals always wanted to preserve the choice that is at the heart of good private health care. The last thing that we wanted is for some procedures to become too expensive for hospitals to stage,” Ms O’Dea said.
“Mandatory funding will ensure that breast cancer, bariatric and gynaecological surgeries will no longer be at risk of cutbacks.”
Ms O’Dea said CHA would work with the Government now to determine the final mandated price of each item in the new bundled system.