Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Pre - Budget Review Of The Health Sector - 3rd April 2014.

As we head towards the Budget in Early to Mid-May 2014 I thought It would be useful to keep a closer eye than usual on what was being said regarding what we might see coming out of the Budget.
According to the Australian Parliament web site Budget Night will be on Tuesday 13th May, 2014.
Here are some of the more interesting articles I have spotted this week.

Surgical blowout if funds savaged

  • March 30, 2014 12:00AM
DOCTORS have warned elective surgery and emergency department waiting times will be hit by a $560 million federal funding cut to hospitals.
NSW hospitals stand to lose $200 million over four years under the current agreement.
The federal government has blamed the previous Gillard government for the cuts.
A new analysis of figures in Treasurer Joe Hockey’s midyear fiscal update reveal the national health reform funding for hospitals will strip $560 million from frontline health services by 2017.
Australian Medical Association president Steve Hambleton said if there was less money in the system, frontline services would suffer.

Australian Private Hospitals Association 33rd National Congress Keynote Address

The Minister for Health Peter Dutton delivered the keynote address at the Australian Private Hospitals Association National Congress in Brisbane on 24 March 2014.
Page last updated: 24 March 2014
24 March 2014
Ladies and Gentleman, good morning and thank you for the introduction.
Thank you very much to Chris Rex for your words earlier and thank you Michael Roff also. We have developed, I think, over the years an excellent working relationship and I look forward very much to that continuing.
Thank you for meeting in my home town of Brisbane.

Interview on Sky News with Peter Van Onselen

Minister for Health Peter Dutton was interviewed on Sky News with Peter Van Onselen and spoke about Knights-Dames, Racial Discrimination Act, Medibank Private Sale and Health Reform.
Page last updated: 26 March 2014
26 March 2014
Topics: Knights-Dames, Racial Discrimination Act, Medibank Private Sale, Health reform.
Peter Van Onselen: The Government moved today to sell Medibank Private. We knew that it was going to be happening, but it has now been announced, it will happen after legislation was first passed to allow the sale back in 2006.
We’re going to be taking a bit of a look through, not just the issue of Medibank Private and its sale, with Peter Dutton; but I started by asking what he thought about the whole Knights and Dames issue, you’ll be surprised to know. Take a look.

Battlers exposed again as budget crunch nears

Date March 29, 2014

Ross Gittins

The Sydney Morning Herald's Economics Editor

With the Abbott government's close relations with big business, we're still to see whether its reign will be one of greater or less rent-seeking by particular industries. So far we have evidence going both ways.
We've seen knockbacks for car makers, fruit canners and Qantas, but wins for farmers opposing the foreign takeover of GrainCorp and seeking more drought help, as well as a stay on the banks' attempt to water down consumer protection on financial advice.
The next test will be the budget. Will the end of the Age of Entitlement apply just to welfare recipients (especially the politically weak, e.g. the unemployed and sole parents, rather than politically powerful age pensioners) or will it extend to ''business welfare''?
With Joe Hockey searching for all the budget savings he can find, there's a lot of business welfare or, euphemistically, ''industry assistance'' to look at. The Productivity Commission measures it every year in its Trade and Assistance Review.

Risks outweigh Medibank float's meagre reward

Date March 29, 2014

Michael West

Business columnist

Dear knights, dames and peasants, far be it for this lowly quill-driver to launch inquiry upon the pronouncements of Her Majesty's most loyal subject, Sir Tony of the Order of The Red Speedo.
Upon our oath, only knaves and sodden-witted loons would quibble that Sir Tony's decree to restore knighthoods and damehoods was inspired. Why, 'tis no giant's leap even for Edward Obeid to upgrade from his present order of chivalry.
In truth we speak! Yea, a Medal of the Order of Australia was bestowed upon noble Edward by Her Royal Highness in 1984.

Insurers shouldn't pay GP gap fees: Dutton

26 March, 2014 Paul Smith
Any funding of GP services by private insurers should not be focused on paying doctors’ gap fees, the Federal Health Minister has warned.
In a key speech to industry heavyweights this week, Peter Dutton (pictured) said he was happy for insurers to give "additional support" to doctors, saying it has the potential to support Medicare rather than undermine it.
"[If] insurers are prepared to work collaboratively with doctors and patients then we should welcome that development," he told the Australian Private Hospitals Association congress in Brisbane on Tuesday.

Private insurers should have a role in primary care: Dutton

27 March, 2014 Nicola Garrett
It’s time to shake off the shackles of history and embrace private health involvement in primary care, Federal Health Minister Peter Dutton has said in a speech to business leaders this week. 
“They have been excluded from the primary care space for historical reasons and if insurers are prepared to work collaboratively with doctors and patients then we should welcome that development”, Dutton said in an opening address to the Australian Private Hospitals Association’s National Congress in Brisbane this week. 
Dutton said his main goal was to provide more support at a primary care level that was in the patients best interest and ultimately that of the Australian taxpayer.

Dutton, industry can health premium fear

THE sale of Medibank Private is unlikely to put pressure on premiums, but will raise industry hopes of reforms to ensure policyholders get value for money.
Industry sources yesterday shared the federal government's confidence the sale would not adversely affect premiums, given that Medibank Private operates as a for-profit insurer and the market is diverse.
Health Minister Peter Dutton has vowed to "continue to keep downward pressure on prices" and ensure that coverage, which currently takes in 47 per cent of the population, remains high. "Nobody's been able to mount the argument that the sale of Medibank Private, in a mature marketplace with 30-odd providers of health insurance, would dampen competition or provide anything by way of upward pressure on premiums," Mr Dutton told Sky News.

Doctors' contracts row: Health Minister Lawrence Springborg says deadline extension not possible

March 27, 2014

Queensland Health Minister Lawrence Springborg has ruled out extending the deadline for senior doctors to sign controversial new contracts.
The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has called for extra time in a bid to negotiate and prevent mass resignations.
It says junior doctors are now getting involved in the dispute amid fears they will lose support if senior medical officers follow through on threats to resign en masse over the agreements.

Rich suburbs have low immunisation rates, research shows Date

March 27, 2014

Lucy Carroll

Health Reporter

Affluent suburbs in Sydney's north, inner west and east have some of the lowest childhood immunisation rates in Australia, new research shows.
Doctors say they are struggling to fight misinformation from anti-vaccine groups and fear outbreaks of measles and other infectious diseases that could have devastating effects. And many parents who are simply ''not getting around'' to vaccinating their children are making the problem worse.
Only about 80 per cent of five-year-old children in suburbs such as Manly, Paddington and Annandale are fully immunised against contagious diseases, compared to significantly higher rates in the Illawarra area, data from the National Health Performance Authority shows.
Experts say parents in inner-Sydney could be failing to complete their children's vaccinations because they travel or move overseas, are concerned about side effects or are influenced by ''misleading information'' from the anti-vaccination lobby.

Out-of-pocket healthcare costs inquiry expected

26th Mar 2014
AN INQUIRY into out-of-pocket healthcare costs is expected to get the green light in the Senate on Wednesday amid speculation about the government’s plans for Medicare.
The motion, led by Greens Senator Dr Richard Di Natale, calls for an inquiry to examine the impact of co-payments on consumers' ability to access healthcare, and related healthcare outcomes and costs.
It will also seek to investigate the role of private health insurers, the likely effects of co-payments on other parts of the health system as well as the “appropriateness and effectiveness of safety nets and other offsets”.

Senate inquiry to investigate high out-of-pocket health costs

Date March 25, 2014 - 12:47PM

Dan Harrison

Health and Indigenous Affairs Correspondent

Labor will team up with the Greens to force a Senate inquiry on the health costs incurred by patients, as the Abbott government considers introducing a fee to visit the doctor.
Greens senator Richard di Natale will give notice on Tuesday that he will move for a wide-ranging inquiry that will look a trends in out-of-pocket health costs, the role of private health insurance and the effect of co-payments on health outcomes.
A vote will be held on the motion on Wednesday. It is likely to pass with the support of Labor.
An analysis in January by the health research organisation Commonwealth Fund found out-of-pocket costs for Australian patients were higher than all other countries surveyed, other than the US and Switzerland, and double those of France and Britain.

Dutton cautious on tiered Medicare rebates

Joanna Heath
Health Minister Peter Dutton has signalled reluctance to introduce a tiered system of Medicare rebates, arguing it would make the system too complicated for doctors.
“I want our health system to be sustainable,” Mr Dutton told ABC Radio.
“The point I’d make is you don’t want to introduce extra complexity and bureaucracy into the system.
“I want to have a more simple system. We have to do it in a sustainable way.”
Labor and the Greens have come out in fierce opposition to a proposal put together by the Department of Health before last year’s budget that would see bulk billing limited to concession card holders and children, with lower rebates given to those on Family Tax Benefit A and the rest of the majority adult population. Mr Dutton’s office refused to rule out accepting the proposal on Thursday.

Dutton: insurers could have a larger role in primary care

Joanna Heath
Health Minister Peter Dutton supports private health insurers entering the primary care sphere and says the government is willing to provide help through Medicare.
Mr Dutton made his most detailed comments yet about potential models that would allow private health insurers to contribute to costs for GP visits at a speech in Brisbane on Monday.
He said he supported private health insurers having a role that would allow them to intervene earlier with chronically ill patients, which would save money for insurers and taxpayers.
“My main objective is to help people improve their health and where possible enhance the primary care offering so as to avoid those future interventions,” Mr Dutton said. “I would find it very difficult to see any system changes in this space where insurers were picking up out-of-pocket expenses for patients – that is delivering free services. We are willing to provide some support through Medicare, but not beyond that.”

Health system concerns over primary care changes

Joanna Heath
Changes made by the Abbott government in primary care will stop short of allowing private insurers to cover ­out-of-pocket GP fees, and most likely be limited to a form of information sharing.
Trials being undertaken by Medibank Private in Queensland, where the insurer has cut a deal with a chain of GP clinics to cover some administrative costs in return for their customers avoiding a so-called “gap” fee, is not being considered by the government as a preferred model. There are concerns that if such a model were rolled out nationwide it could lead to a divided healthcare ­system, where privately covered patients are treated differently to those on Medicare.
Mr Dutton has given 2 major speeches rehearsing the huge present costs of Health System and all the new expensive technologies which will add dramatically to the bill over the next few years. You can be sure he is hoping to keep that growth as low as possible - by hook or by crook!
The float of Medicare Private is clearly part of the plan. One can only hope privatising the largest health insurer does not result in premium rises for you and me.
To remind people there is also a great deal of useful discussion here from The Conversation.
As usual - no real news on the PCEHR Review.
More next week.

No comments: