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Head of new health watchdog announced

The Federal Government has announced the inaugural chair of the National Health Performance Authority as it advances its health reforms.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Minister for Health and Ageing Nicola Roxon have announced the appointments of the inaugural chairs of the two major health reform bodies.

In a meeting on Friday, COAG agreed to appoint Patricia Faulkner AO and John Walsh to be chair and deputy chair of the National Health Performance Authority.

COAG also announced Shane Solomon as the inaugural chair of the Independent Hospital Pricing Authority IHPA, which will set the national price for public health services and will develop a national activity-based funding system. Jim Birch will be appointed as the inaugural Deputy Chair of the IHPA.

An interim IHPA will be established as a separate executive agency effective from September 1 until legislation for an independent statutory body is passed.

Prime Minister Gillard said the appointments were the next step in the implementation of the National Health Reform Agreement.

Last week the National Health Performance Authority legislation passed through the House of Representatives.

However, independent MP, Rob Oakeshott said the new authority was a watered down of its original objective. He said Labor’s 29 amendments to the legislation were a compromise too far with the states and did not reflect the original principle of granting greater autonomy to the local health district networks.

“The amendments are so substantial in the way they change this from what started out as a national performance authority to what is now a gaggle of states authority.

The command and control really is residing once again back in the hands of the states and territories,” he told parliament on Thursday.

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