The Department of Health is dealing with significant internal changes as the private health sector navigates the complexity of policy and political scrutiny.
A recent major restructure has combined the areas responsible for private health insurance, including prostheses, with the area previously known as the Pharmaceutical Benefits Division.
Creation of the division now called 'Technology, Assessment and Access' has been further complicated by the recent retirement of Deputy Secretary Andrew Stuart. The division is led by First Assistant Secretary Penny Shakespeare.
The division now houses the newly created Office of Health Technology Assessment. It will become an administrative and policy hub for the Department's HTA committees, including the Prostheses List Advisory Committee, chaired by Professor Terry Campbell AM, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee and Medical Services Advisory Committee.
The division has four branches.
Julianne Quaine leads Pharmacy and Insurance Programs, which is responsible for pharmacy and the all-important process for private health insurance premium increases.
The former head of the Pharmaceutical Evaluation Branch, Louise Clarke, leads the 'Office of Health Technology Assessment - Policy' while Tracey Duffy leads 'Office of Health Technology Assessment - Assessment'. Lisa La Rance leads 'Pricing and Policy'.
The practical implications of the change for stakeholders, including its operation, remains unclear. However, the relevant stakeholder groups, including private health funds, medical device and pharmaceutical companies, as well as pharmacy and medical groups, are amongst the most active in Canberra.