Submission on Draft Regulations Relating to the Obtainance (sic) of Information and Processes of Determination and Publication of Reference Price Lists
The ALP welcomes the opportunity to make a submission on the Draft Regulations Relating to the Obtainance (sic) of information and Processes of Determination and Publication of Reference Lists (“draft regulations”).
The ALP accepts that there is a need to address inequity in access to private health care services as well as the need to contain and regulate costs in the private sector. For this reason regular and accurate information about health financing, service prices and business practice in the private sector is essential in determining both health policy as well as a fair and reasonable price for services and products. However, if the draft regulations are to give effect to the objective of obtaining such information then we believe that it should be significantly strengthened.
Below we deal with individual sections of the draft regulation that require strengthening. However, there are 4 key aspects that we hope you will take into account in finalising the draft regulations:
- Unfortunately, the draft regulations provide the Director-General (DG_ with the discretion to obtain information on an annual basis (“may”). However, we believe that given the importance of this process the discretion should be replaced with an obligations to obtain information annually (“shall”). This is not only for the purposes of determining the National Reference Price Lists (NRPLs – Section 8) but also for ensuring that our health policy takes into account annual development in the private sector. A compulsory process is also important because government is under an obligation to ensure that it correctly determines the necessary level of state intervention and regulatory oversight of the private sector. In addition, given advances in medicine and science, an annual review will ensure that information is accurate and up to date.
- As the regulations stand, verification may occur by the DG or by an advisory committee who assists the DG. However the later is dependent on two things: whether such a Committee is established by the Minister and whether the DG seeks its advice (because the draft regulations gives him/her a discretion to do so).
- Regrettably, the draft regulations do not create a mechanism for any interested person/organisation to challenge the methodology, calculations and information submitted by the private sector or consultants who ct on its behalf (only the DG can – who may or may not seek the assistance of an advisory committee).
- The proposed ‘verification system’ is very loosely formulated and requires strengthening.