Featured Health Reform

CHANGE IN CANBERRA

The events of the week in Canberra have thrown the plans of just about every major stakeholder into chaos.

None more so than in health with the resignation of Greg Hunt as Minister and the outstanding issue of reform to PHI via the Private Health Legislation Amendment Bill.

This Bill will set in place the framework to allow for PHI policies to be categorised as gold, silver, bronze or basic.

The Bill may have a significant impact on the medical device industry as it is may reduce patient reimbursement for medical devices or require consumers to upgrade to more expensive policies, depending upon what policy they hold under the new categorisation.  It has and remains a major issue for the medical device industry.

As of this week it had not been passed by the Senate and now the live issue is that it may not pass into law with the prospect of an early election a very, very real possibility.

If an election is called within the next two weeks, then the Bill will die.  It will either have to be revived by a re-elected Liberal Government under a new Health Minister or a new Labor Government with Catherine King as Health Minister will have to pick up the whole issue of PHI reform from scratch.

As Labor has stated their policy in regard to PHI is to cap PHI increases at 2% for two years while the Productivity Commission conducts a root and branch review of the PHI industry.

Election Timing

Up until this week, the smart money was on a May 2019 election, but the chances of a September or October election are now real.

An early election is problematic for Scott Morrison both in terms of logistics and timing.

In terms of timing, there has to be the passage of a minimum of 33 days from the calling of the Federal election and election day itself.

If an election was called this Monday for instance, then the earliest the election could be held is 29th September and that is AFL Grand Final day.

So Federally, the only realistic dates for an early Federal election are 6 Oct, 13 Oct, 20 Oct and maybe 27 October.

In order to avoid an overlap with the Victorian election which will be held on 24th November the latest an election could be called for say 27th October would be on or around 24th September.

So, there is a three-week window from now until approximately the 24th September for Scott Morrison to call an early Federal election.

The new Prime Minister faces a horror scenario for an October election.  It would see him campaigning during the footy finals season, which will no doubt just annoy a lot of people.

It would also see Victorians going to a Federal and State poll within a couple of months of each other, hardly likely to make the new PM popular.

Remember too, back in 2016 Malcolm Turnbull personally contributed $1.5m to the Liberal Party to help fund the Liberals campaign – well that won’t be happening again.

All in all, the new PM faces the worst of all worlds in regard to an October election.  But he may have no choice but to go to the polls, so the people can sort out the mess that the Government has created.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jody Fassina is the Managing Director of Insight Strategy and has been an strategic adviser to MedTech and pharmaceutical stakeholders.

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