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December 2008

Public Health Expenditure Technical Advisory Group

Professor Jim Butler was invited to attend a meeting of this Group in Brisbane this month to provide input into a discussion of the public health expenditure data collection and future plans for publication of the data by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).  The latest version of the publication entitled Public health expenditure in Australia 2006-07 can be downloaded from the AIHW web site here.

Workshop presentation, University of Bremen, Germany

Dr. Francesco Paolucci, a Research Fellow at ACERH (ANU), has accepted an invitation to give a presentation at a workshop on Explaining Healthcare System Change organised by the University of Bremen in Germany on 4-5 December. This is an interdisciplinary workshop aimed at bringing together researchers in different fields dealing with the explanation of change in healthcare systems.  

Presentations will be made by scholars working in various policy sectors of the welfare state and will cover a wide range of empirical and theoretical contributions from healthcare policy, political science, economics, sociology, and related fields.  Further details and the program for the event can be downloaded here.

International Association for Time Use Research annual conference

This year the International Association for Time Use Research (IATUR) will hold their annual conference in Australia for the first time. The IATUR organises an annual multinational and multidisciplinary conference which focuses on issues related to time use research and time use data collection. The aim is to attract Australians interested in time use research in addition to the many European, Asian and other international researchers that regularly attend.  The conference will be held at the Wesley Conference Centre, Sydney, on 1-3 December 2008.  The theme of the conference this year is ‘Advances in Time Use Research: Methods, Analysis and Application’.  Dr Julie Smith will be attending the conference and will present a paper based on her time use survey of new mothers.  She will also chair two other sessions at the conference.  ACERH gratefully acknowledges the financial support provided by a travel grant from the Office of the Vice-Chancellor at ANU which will enable Dr Smith to attend this conference.

ACERH (ANU) welcomes Summer Scholars

Three Summer Research Scholarship recipients arrived at ACERH (ANU) at the beginning of December.  Michal Dick will work on ethical aspects of financial compensation for organ donors under the supervision of Dr Renata Hasanova.  Loc Thai will work on various aspects of the regulatory system for pharmaceuticals in Australia under the supervision of Dr Yuhua Shi.  Sonn Palalikit will work on risk equalisation in private health insurance under the supervision of Dr Francesco Paolucci.  Further details on our Summer Scholars are available here.


November 2008

Conference: Health Insurance Product Innovation & Marketing 2008

Professor Luke Connelly has accepted an invitation to give an address at this conference being held in Sydney on 26-28 November.  The title of his presentation is ‘Private Health Insurance in Australia: Consumer Trends, Problems and Innovative Solutions’.  The conference brochure contains further details on the event including registration procedures. The slides from Professor Connelly’s presentation can be downloaded here.

TRACsa Conference

The Government of South Australia established TRACsa (Trauma and Injury Recovery South Australia) in December 2005 to improve health and social outcomes for people injured on the road and in the workplace.  TRACsa is an independent organisation that works closely with both the Motor Accident Commission and WorkCover SA to ensure a consistent approach to recognised best practice care across both compensation sectors.  TRACsa is organising a conference on the theme ‘Better Choices Better Health: Improving Compensation Outcomes’ in Adelaide on 24-26 November.  This is the first national conference on best practice management of compensable soft tissue injuries in community settings.  The conference program can be downloaded here. ACERH staff and students are involved in a number of sessions at the Conference:

'Effects of legislative reforms on the claims process and outcomes: Evidence from the Queensland Compulsory Third Party insurance claims'
Luke Connelly (slides)

'Improving outcome after musculoskeletal injuries in motor vehicle crashes: A controlled trial'
Susannah Littleton (presenting author), Stephanie Poustie, Ian Cameron, Brett Robinson, Jim Butler, David Hughes and Paul Smith (slides)

'The Ipp Review: Impact on state and territory compensation schemes'
Natalie Spearing (slides)

Successful research grant applications  

ACERH researcher Professor Luke Connelly (UQ) is a Chief Investigator on two successful NHMRC Project Grant applications.  Both projects involve new treatments for chronic whiplash.  Dr Julie Smith (ANU) is a Chief Investigator on a successful NHMRC Project Grant application involving a GP-based cluster randomised trial of enhanced in-practice support for smoking cessation.  Further details on these three grants, all of which commence in 2009, are available on the ACERH web site here.

ACERH academic speaks in the USA and Cuba

ACERH (ANU) Research Fellow Dr Francesco gave a presentation as part of a plenary session at the Latin American and Caribbean Congress on Health Economics in Cuba in October. During this trip, he also gave two seminars in the USA, at Johns Hopkins University and Stanford University.

The Congress in Cuba was organised by the Cuban Society of Health Economics (Sociedad Cubana de Economía de la Salud, SCES) and held in Havana. Details of the plenary session are as follows:

Title:           Regulation and criteria setting for national packages and pharmaceutical policies
Chair:          Prof. Dr. Joan Rovira I Forn, Universidad de Barcelona
Speakers:     Dr Francesco Paolucci ‘Conditions for priority setting in formulating national health packages’
                  Prof. Lonny Erickson ‘Priority setting for new vaccine packages, some international examples’
                  Prof. Louis Niessen ‘Priority setting in drug registration in OECD countries – design and criteria’
                  Prof. Rafael Perez Cristia ‘Present situation in Cuba and options for the future’.

The seminar at Johns Hopkins University was entitled ‘Economic Rationales for the Design of National Insurance Packages: Lessons for Europe and the US’.

The seminar at Stanford University was entitled ‘‘Universal Mandatory Health Insurance in the Netherlands: an option for Australia and the US?’. Details of this seminar are available from the Stanford University web site here.

Dr Paolucci’s travel to the USA and Cuba was funded by Johns Hopkins University. Requests for further information about his presentations should be directed to him at:


October 2008

ACERH staff member’s Opinion published online

Dr Francesco Paolucci has accepted an invitation to write an Opinion for ABC News online.  The Opinion piece, entitled ‘The opportunity to opt out of Medicare’, was published online on 22 October and can be found here.

ACERH (UQ) seminar on the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission (NHHRC)

Stephen Duckett, Chief Executive of the Centre for Healthcare Improvement at Queensland Health, Adjunct Professor at ACERH (UQ), and member of the NHHRC, gave a seminat at ACERH (UQ) on 21 October on the NHHRC.  The details of the seminar are available on the Seminars page of this web site.  The PowerPoint slides from the presentation can be downloaded here.

Seminar at University College London

ACERH Postdoctoral Fellow Nora Markova has accepted an invitation to present a seminar organised by the Centre for East European Language Based Area Studiies (CEELBAS) and the Centre for the Study of Economic and Social Change in Europe (CSESCE) at University College London on 15 October.  The seminar is one in a series on on health and health care reform in Central and Eastern European Countries (CEECs), Russia and Central Asia.  The title of her persentation is ‘On the Link between Health, Socio-Economic Inequalities and Health Care Financing’.  To view the seminar notice, click here.


September 2008

Australian Society of Rehabilitation Counsellors (ASORC) Conference

Professor Luke Connelly gave an invited keynote address to the ASORC National Conference 2008 in Canberra on 12 September.  Professor Connelly’s presentation, entitled “Personal Values with Acquired Disability: Some Economic Issues”, addressed the way that economic theory may be used to model disability as an exogenous shock to the stock of human capital and to consider the effect of systemic changes (such as tort reform) on the welfare of people who are injured and disabled (e.g. via a motor vehicle crash).

The presentation also outlined economic approaches to the evaluation of specific interventions and the associated problems of health status measurement.  These techniques, which are used extensively in the Australian health care sector, are not widely used to assess the cost-effectiveness of the “non-medical” rehabilitation therapies.  Professor Connelly argued that the advent of their use by the purchasers of care (e.g. public and private insurers) in the rehabilitation sector would create a range of commercial threats and opportunities for providers and that consumers of rehabilitation services would be likely to benefit as a result. Further details of the conference can be obtained from the conference web site.

The slides from Professor Connelly’s presentation can be downloaded here.

Menzies-ACERH public seminar on health care financing

The Menzies Centre for Health Policy, in conjunction with ACERH, will host a public seminar on health care financing in Australia at ANU on Tuesday, 9 September commencing at 5:30pm.  The title of the seminar is ‘Sustainable Funding for Australia’s Future Health Care’.  Speakers at the event will be Professor Jim Butler and Dr Francesco Paolucci from ACERH (ANU), and Mr Henry Ergas from Concept Economics.  The flyer for the event can be downloaded here. The PowerPoint slides from each of the speaker’s presentations can be downloaded here.


August 2008

Australian Lung Cancer Conference

Associate Professor Terri Jackson and her colleague Dr Kwun Fong from the Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane presented two invited papers at the Australian Lung Cancer Conference on the Gold Coast on 22 August.  The first, ‘Frequency and costs of complications in lung cancer treatment’ arose from Dr Jackson’s current research for the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care.  The second used work done by Dr Jackson and Dr Fong on population screening using Low Dose CT Screening for lung cancer as an illustration of the evidential hurdles facing introduction of such interventions.

ACERH PhD student wins travel scholarship

Mr Terence Cheng, a PhD student at ACERH (ANU), has been awarded a Travel Scholarship by the Australian Health Economics Society to attend the 30th Australian Conference of Health Economists in Adelaide in October.  Mr Cheng’s paper is entitled ‘Demand for Hospital Care and Private Health Insurance in a Mixed Public-Private System: Evidence from Australia’.  It will be available for download from the ACERH web site in September.

Economic Society of Australia (Canberra Branch) Seminar

Professor Jim Butler will address a seminar in Canberra organised by the Economic Society of Australia on Wednesday, 13 August.  The topic of his seminar is ‘New Hospital Financing System for Australia’.  A notice about the seminar including an Abstract for his talk can be downloaded here. To download the PowerPoint slides for his presentation, click here.


July 2008

ACERH (UWA) to study catastrophically injured persons in WA

Approximately $200,000 has recently been awarded by the Insurance Commission of Western Australia (ICWA) for an 18 month collaborative research study to be led by Dr Rachael Moorin, Director of the ACERH (UWA) node.  The study will undertake research to estimate the costs and evaluate the availability of care for catastrophically injured persons in Western Australia.  One of the important aims of the study is to estimate the cost of care incurred by compensable and non compensable parties.  The research will also seek to obtain a clear understanding and measure of the accessibility of care and assistance provided to non-compensable catastrophically injured people in WA.

This study is unique in its approach to investigating the issues from a consumer and community perspective with consumers, carers and researchers being equal partners throughout the entire research process.  The research team has established a collaboration with community representatives from organisations including the UWA School of Population Health Consumer and Community Advisory Council, the Health Consumers’ Council of WA (Inc.), the Ministerial Advisory Council on Disability, the Carers Advisory Council, the Disability Services Commission, Advocacy South West, Pilbarra and Kimberley Care Inc, HeadWest, Disability First Stop, and People with Disabilities WA..

International Lactation Consultant Association Conference

Dr Julie Smith, a Research Fellow at ACERH (ANU), has accepted an invitation to be an international keynote speaker at the International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA) Annual Conference in the USA this month.  The Conference is being held in Las Vegas on 23-27 July.

7th European Conference on Health Economics

The 7th European Conference on Health Economics was held in Rome from 23-26 July.  Further information about the conference is available here. Several presentations authored or co-authored by ACERH staff were given as follows:

‘Lifetime fairness? Taxes, subsidies, age-based penalties and the price of private health insurance in Australia’
Shelton Brown III (working paper)

‘Subsidising private health Insurance in Australia: Why, how and how to proceed?’
Jim Butler (presentation)

‘On the link between health, socio-economic inequalities and health care financing’
Nora Markova

‘Cost-benefit model system of chronic diseases in Australia: To assess and rank prevention and treatment options’
Agnes Walker (presentation)

Population Health Congress 2008

This Congress, jointly organised by the Public Health Association of Australia, the Australian Health Promotion Association, the Australasian Epidemiological Association and the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine, was held in Brisbane on 6-9 July.  Further information about the Congress is available here. ACERH (ANU) Postdoctoral Fellow Rosemary Korda gave a presentation at the Congress entitled ‘Socioeconomic inequalities in the diffusion of high-technology health care: Uptake of coronary procedures 1989 – 2003’. (Abstract)

 Asia-Pacific Risk and Insurance Association (APRIA) Conference

ACERH (ANU) Research Fellow Dr Francesco Paolucci gave a presentation at the APRIA 12th Annual Conference this month.  The Conference was held from 6-9 July at the University of New South Wales.  Dr Paolucci’s presentation was entitled ‘Subsidising Private Health Insurance in Australia’.  The official conference web site can be found here.  The detailed program for the conference can be downloaded here.


June 2008

International Casemix Summer School

ACERH (UQ) Associate Professor Terri Jackson was again invited to serve on the faculty of the Patient Classification Systems International Summer School, held this year in Avignon from 9-13 June.  Dr Jackson conducted lectures and tutorials in the validation and use of routine hospital data for monitoring patient safety and quality of care, and in the design of casemix payment systems.  Co-sponsor of the annual intensive course is the Service de Santé Publique et d'Information Médicale headed by Prof J. M. Rodrigues of the University of Ste Etienne Medical School.

Queensland Health Patient Safety Symposium

Associate Professor Terri Jackson gave an invited presented on ‘What can the condition-onset flag tell us about patient safety?’ at a symposium for patient safety workers across the state organised by Queensland Health and held on 18 June.

Waiting times research reported

In 2005, Adjunct Professor Stephen Duckett had a paper published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal on the effects of the Australian private health insurance rebate on waiting times in the public sector.  This paper was featured in a report in the Sydney Morning Herald on 24 June 2008.  Professor Duckett’s paper is available for download here.

IARU Workshop on Social and Health Challenges of Population Aging

Dr Agnes Walker, a Fellow at ACERH (ANU), will represent the ANU and give a presentation at an International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU) workshop, to be hosted by the National University of Singapore this month.  The workshop will flesh out details of IARU’s Ageing, Longevity and Health project.  Dr Walker will speak on ‘Health and long term care policy challenges in Australia's ageing population’.  She will also propose possible collaborative, methodological and comparative approaches to this project.  For further details, click here.

ACERH Research Forum - Canberra

A half-day Research Forum on ‘Risk-equalisation in health insurance markets’ will be held at ANU on 10 June.  International visitors Mr John Armstrong, Head of Actuarial Services in Vhi Healthcare, Ireland, and Professor Amir Shmueli from the University of Jerusalem, will speak at the Forum along with Dr Francesco Paolucci from ACERH (ANU), Mr Paul Collins from PHIAC, Mr Andrew Gale from Medibank Private and Mr David Watson from HCF.  Further details, including the program for the Forum and the PowerPoint presentation for each speaker, are available here.

Morbidity, mortality and economic cost of Hepatitis B in Australia

ACERH (ANU) has won a tender from the the ‘Advancing the Clinical Treatment of Hepatitis B Virus’ (ACT-HBV) initiative in Australia to prepare a report on the morbidity, mortality and economic cost of hepatitis B in Australia.  The final report on the project, due later this year, will provide:
•    an overview of the historical impact of hepatitis B in Australia;
•    a literature review;
•    projections of the morbidity, mortality, direct and indirect costs associated with hepatitis B from 2007 to 2017;
•    one or more design options for a nationally coordinated response to hepatitis B, and the costs and benefits of those options;  and
•    an assessment of the return to investment in a nationally coordinated response to hepatitis B.

The project team comprises Professor Jim Butler and Ms Rosemary Korda from ACERH (ANU), and Dr Katrina Watson and Associate Professor Ashley Watson who are both physicians with expertise in the clinical management of hepatitis B.


May 2008

Brisbane radio interview

Professor Luke Connelly was interviewed on radio station 4BC about the impact of the government’s decision to increase the Medicare Levy Surcharge.

Interview on ABC Radio National

Professor Jim Butler was interviewed by Peter Mares on ABC Radio National’s show The National Interest on 23 May as part of a segment entitled ‘Stable but Critical: Insurance & Hospital Funding’.  Other participants in the segment were Mr Michael Roff, Executive Director Australian Private Hospital Association, and Mr Mark Fitzgibbon, Managing Director, NIB insurance and a Director of the Australian Health Insurance Association.  A transcript of the segment is available from the ABC web site (click here).

NSW forum on data linkage for safety and quality research

Associate Professor Terri Jackson will be a keynote speaker at a forum entitled ‘Measuring the safety and quality of health services: a key application for record linkage’ to be held in Sydney on 22 May.  The forum is jointly sponsored by the Centre for Health Data Linkage, the Clinical Excellence Commission, and the Sax Institute.  Her presentation will review the strengths and limitations of using routine hospital data to understand patient safety issues, including research directions arising from her work with the Australian Commission for Safety and Quality in Health Care.  Further information about the forum is available here.

ACERH staff member joins vaccine advisory board

Professor Jim Butler has accepted an invitation from GlaxoSmithKline Australia to join an Advisory Board to support the development of the company’s new vaccine, Synflorix, a 10‑valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine.  The Board had its first meeting in Melbourne this month.


April 2008

CSIRO workshop on valuation metrics for natural resource management

Professor Jim Butler was invited to participate in a one-day workshop in Canberra on 30 April on the topic ‘A standardised valuation metric: Should (and how could) we develop a standardised system for quantifying the benefits of Australian natural resource management?’.  The workshop was jointly run by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the Australian Government Department of Environment Water Heritage and the Arts.  The agenda was concerned with the question whether (and how) Australia might develop a quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) equivalent for natural resource management investments.

Presentation on demutualisation of private health insurance

Professor Luke Connelly attended the Abacus Workshop on Financial Mutuals on 28 April in Sydney and was a panel member in a discussion that involved the presentation of his work on demutualisation in Australian private health insurance markets.  The workshop was sponsored by Abacus and jointly hosted by Abacus and the Melbourne Centre for Financial Studies.  It focused largely on credit union and building society mutuals which are facing many of the same issues as mutual private health insurers.  Further details about this Workshop, including selected papers and presentations, are available here.

Victorian Public Health Trainee Scheme examinations

Associate Professor Terri Jackson was invited by LaTrobe University to serve as the external examiner for this year's graduates from the Victorian Department of Human Services Public Health Training Program in Melbourne.

New academic staff members at ACERH (ANU)

Ms Rosemary Korda and Dr Nora Markova commenced appointments as Postdoctoral Fellows at ACERH (ANU) this month.  Further information about their backgrounds and research interests is available here.


March 2008

ACERH staff member lectures in Europe

Dr Francesco Paolucci has accepted an invitation to be a Guest Lecturer in the Master in Health Economics Policy and Law (HEPL) at Erasmus University, Rotterdam, this month.  He will be lecturing in the course ‘Competition policy in the health care sector’.  He has also been invited to give a lecture on 10 March in the Public Lectures in Law and Economics series at the University of Bologna, Italy, as part of the European Doctorate in Law and Economics.  The title of his lecture is ‘Competition in Health Insurance Markets: An Economic and Legal Perspective’.  The program for this lecture series can be downloaded here.

Presentation at Risk Adjustment Network (RAN) meeting

The role of the RAN is to consider the application of risk equalisation to health insurance in order to bring about risk solidarity.  The membership of the Network comprises representatives from many of the countries that have already such a system of regulation in place, viz. Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Israel, the Netherlands and Switzerland.  Dr Francesco has been invited to give a presentation at the RAN meeting being held in Dublin, Ireland, on 6-8 March on recent developments in Australia in the area of risk equalisation in health insurance markets.  The slides for his presentation can be downloaded here.


February 2008

National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission

ACERH (UQ) Adjunct Professor Stephen Duckett has been appointed to serve on the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission.  The Commission’s final report is expected in June 2009.

ACERH Policy Forum

The second ACERH Policy Forum was held at the University of Queensland on Friday, 22 February.  The Policy Forum is a one-day event that provides an opportunity for an exchange of ideas between ACERH staff and doctoral students and bureaucrats, policy advisors, economic consultants and other professionals who work in the health policy area.  As ACERH’s research agenda comprises predominantly applied work in health economics and health policy, the programs for the Policy Forums are designed to reflect this agenda.  In all, 13 speakers presented at the Forum on topics within three themes –health insurance, hospital financing, and ageing and health care costs.  The Forum was attended by around 70 invitees from a diverse range of organisations.  The program for the Forum, and the presentations made by the speakers, are available on the ACERH web site (click here). 

World Bank Seminar on Provider Payment

ACERH (UQ) Adjunct Professor Stephen Duckett was invited to attend the World Bank Regional Health Financing Seminar in Bangkok on 4-5 February.  His presentation canvassed the range of provider payment reforms available to health care purchasers to promote 'Strategic Choices for Better Outcomes' in the Asia-Pacific region.


January 2008

New academic staff member at ACERH (UQ)

Dr Rasheda Khanam commenced an appointment as Postdoctoral Research Fellow at ACERH (UQ) this month.  Further information about Dr Khanam’s background and research interests is available here.



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