In January, the Prime Minister stated she was “not starting the nation’s longest election campaign.” What she has started however, is a very long period of political lobbying from the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry.
Off and running
The date has been set for the next federal election and before Julia Gillard even left the stage at the National Press Club in Canberra where she made the announcement, lobbyists and government affairs staff hit the go button on their pre-election engagement strategies.
Although many questioned the rationale for such an early announcement, it has provided some certainty for industry. We can now use a pen to add September 14 in our diaries, adding to the other key dates – Federal Budget 2013 (May 14), Federal Budget 2014 (May 13) and MOU Expiry (June 30, 2014).
It will be important for industry not to get caught up in campaigning, the leadership speculation or predictions on which party will be successful. At the very least, even if the government is returned in September, we could expect a completely different front bench, possibly a new health minister and a new parliamentary secretary for health. The bottom line is that whoever wins in September will seek to make savings in expenditure and the PBS will most certainly be a target. The influence of the central government agencies, particularly the Department of Finance and Deregulation could be pivotal in policy setting post MOU.
How should Industry respond?
The best option then is to put forward ideas to ensure both a sustainable PBS and a sustainable industry with clever policy options designed to enable market access whilst delivering savings for government and dividends for shareholders. The recent media squabble over policies between MA and GMiA demonstrates that industry is already manoeuvring to gain upper hand post-election. The now public GMiA policies have come under fire from MA, and we now wait for MA to reveal its proposals for post July 2014.
So with a date set in September, we can now make our annual leave plans for later this year. But importantly, we must not let the excitement of an election campaign take our eyes off the game. Decisions regarding the PBS post MOU will be the governments to make and any group offering a pathway to savings will get face time with the government of the day.