New year advocacy update

Marcia Balzer
26 February 2024
“Poor sleep drives very poor health outcomes… So there are very good reasons for governments and the health system to drive better sleep behaviour. But it is clear that we need a better and wider understanding right through the healthcare system about what it takes to do what seems like a relatively straight forward proposition…
 “I want to say how much your agenda fits into a number of our broader agendas in the federal health portfolio. I know how much the association is focussed on lifting the broader health care system, particularly in primary care, to identify and treat poor sleep. Indeed, that was one of the key recommendations of Bedtime Reading, the report delivered four and a half years ago, back in 2019…
“This provides a very strong blueprint for us to work together and for us to listen to your expertise, your learnings, your insights on how we can drive better sleep health awareness in the primary care system.”
These were just some of the encouraging words delivered by the Minister for Health and Aged Care, The Hon. Mark Butler, during his opening speech for Sleep DownUnder 2023 in Adelaide last November.
It was a positive and powerful message that collective efforts over many years to raise awareness and highlight the importance of sleep health in the national policy agenda have achieved success.
The ASA’s advocacy work in partnership with the Sleep Health Foundation continues with this year’s joint Pre-budget submission. The submission makes a case for implementing a 10-year National Sleep Health Strategy, echoing the first recommendation of the Mitchell Institute’s recently-released policy evidence brief Sleep: a core pillar of health and wellbeing.
Earlier this month, the ASA and SHF met with the Health Minister’s Policy Director to explain the Pre-budget submission and seek support for an investment in sleep health to further the goals of the National Preventive Health Strategy. The opportunities discussed during that meeting are being actively pursued over the coming months.
In other advocacy news, the ASA has provided advice to the Department of Health and Aged Care in relation to proposed changes to Medicare rebates for attended sleep studies in non-hospital settings.
The ASA’s application for Medicare item numbers for out-of-laboratory sleep studies for children is scheduled for consideration at the April meeting of the Medicare Services Advisory Committee, with a determination expected some weeks after the meeting.

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