Sunday, January 05, 2014

Be Alert And Alarmed! - The Federal Government Is Testing The Response To Healthcare Funding Cuts.

As often happens in the period before any hard federal budget leaks on the planned nasties come out early. In this case, with the Commission of Audit off and running, we are getting even earlier warning.
Here is one of the first mentions:

$5 to see the GP is healthy

  • Editorial
  • Sunday Herald Sun
  • December 29, 2013 12:00AM
ENDING free visits to the doctor is a long overdue reform to reduce unnecessary appointments and ease the growing burden of public health spending on taxpayers.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s Commission of Audit is considering the value of a small $5 co-payment for bulk-billed GP visits to send a “price signal” to patients to avoid unwarranted visits to the doctor.
Supporters of the change say a co-payment of “less than (the price of) a Big Mac and fries” would ensure the sick can get an appointment with a doctor when they need to.
Some will argue that such a change would undermine the universality of Medicare, or even stop people going to the doctor when they need to.
But unfettered access to free doctor visits has encouraged many to visit their doctor at the first sign of a sniffle, and led some doctors to rort the system through over-service.
Amid warnings that the current system is driving GPs at big clinics to encourage patients to book multiple visits to resolve complaints while families with sick children struggle to find an appointment, Health Minister Peter Dutton says his priority is to make sure our “most sick” have access to GPs.
More here:
Despite the timing the reports were really noticed and we got this.

Statement from Minister for Health

Speculation in the media regarding Commission of Audit recommendations in relation to health.

Page last updated: 29 December 2013
29 December 2013
There has been widespread speculation in the media today about what recommendations the whole of government Commission of Audit may make in relation to health.
The Coalition Government is committed to maintaining and improving our world-class health system.
Labor spent a lot of money on creating huge health bureaucracies. The Coalition Government is committed to getting more of that money back to deliver and improve front line services for patients.
The Government has committed to funding in health and to making sure our health system is sustainable and accessible into the future. We stand by that commitment.
We won't be commenting on speculation around what the Commission of Audit may or may not recommend.
The Commission’s work is still being compiled and will be provided to the Government in 2014.
The Government will be able to consider any recommendations and respond after that time.
The release is here:
We then had all sorts of opinions emerge:
See here:

GP visits should cost $30: former health boss Andrew Podger

  • The Australian
  • January 03, 2014 12:00AM
PATIENTS should be charged as much as $30 to visit a general practitioner or the emergency department to reduce demand on medical services, a former Health Department chief has urged.
And here:

Healthcare: 'Doctor obsession' to lead to cost blowout

Date January 2, 2014

Jonathan Swan

Decisions made by Tony Abbott when he was health minister will soon cause a blowout in healthcare costs dwarfing the money saved by introducing a $6 fee for GP visits, a health workforce expert says.
And here:

The side effects of GP co-payments

Date January 1, 2014

Jennifer Doggett

We should contribute to our healthcare costs. But this is not the best way.
A co-payment for GP visits might seem like a cure for Australia's rising healthcare costs but its introduction could cause serious side effects.
And here:

Abbott urged to reinstate GP fee

TONY Abbott is facing mounting calls to whack patients with a new $5 fee for GP visits, as doctors warn any move to introduce "co-payments" risks escalating pressure on the strained public health system.
And last here:

Medicare co-payments have a lesson in their history

Date December 30, 2013

Anne Davies

The announcement of a $3.50 co-payment for people who were bulk-billed under Medicare in the August 1991 budget arguably cost prime minister Bob Hawke the Labor leadership.
Comment: All in all what we have here is a situation where the PCEHR and Medicare Locals have / are being reviewed and broader cuts are being floated.
So as the title of the blog says - Be Alert and Alarmed. Major cuts have to be coming and for sure the PCEHR and Medicare Locals will suffer some form of hit. The only question is how big and damaging the cuts will be and where else the axe will fall!

1 comment:

Terry Hannan said...

"ENDING free visits to the doctor is a long overdue reform to reduce unnecessary appointments and ease the growing burden of public health spending on taxpayers". Firt of all there have never been any FREE visits to health care providers despite a universal health care system. [Hannan T, Celia C, Are doctors the structural weakness in the e-Health building? Intern Med J; 2013; 43: (2013) doi:10.1111/imj.12270] We all pay. Also what difference does it make to a GPs clinic waiting time / income if the waiting list drops from 6 months to 3 months or even 1 month-nothing. In addition thos co-payment system is not health care driven it is $ driven yet does not address the fundamentals of cost generation in health care. I recall my colleague from Harvard University, Professor Warner Slack saying "medicine is not a business our business is clinical medicine!". [Cybermedicine-W. Slack].