Thursday, September 11, 2014

Review Of The Ongoing Post - Budget Controversy 11th September 2014. It Just Rolls On!

Budget Night was on Tuesday 13th May, 2014 and the fuss has still not settled by a long shot.
It is amazing how the discussion on the GP Co-Payment just runs and runs. Some more this week.
Some reviews of the 1st year in office for the Abbott Government also.
Here are some of the more interesting articles I have spotted this 15th week since it was released.
Parliament is now up for a while and apparently do not come back until 22nd September.

General.

1 September 2014, 6.08am AEST

Australian health care: where do we stand internationally?

TThere is an old joke about one fish asking another about the state of the water and the other answering “what’s water?” When you’re immersed in something and that is your daily experience, you are not…

Stephen Duckett

Director, Health Program at Grattan Institute
There is an old joke about one fish asking another about the state of the water and the other answering “what’s water?” When you’re immersed in something and that is your daily experience, you are not able to step outside it – all you see is what you know.
But with all the talk about Australia’s health system being unsustainable, it’s useful to step back and look at the Australian health system in an international context.
So, how do we perform against our peers? The short answer is pretty well.
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AMA raises concerns over university deregulation push

02/09/2014
Australian Medical Association President Associate Professor Brian Owler has written to crucial crossbench senators urging them to oppose the Federal Government's push to deregulate university fees and reduce subsidies for Commonwealth Supported Places.
The AMA holds several concerns about the impact of these budget policy changes on medicine. As a much sought after qualification, there is a significant risk of an explosion in costs for a medical degree under the proposed university overhaul.
In his letter, A/Professor Owler said there was good evidence that high fee levels and the prospect of significant debt deters people from lower socio-economic backgrounds from entering university.
“We also know, in relation to medicine, that a high level of student debt is an important factor in career choice – driving people towards better remunerated areas of practice and away from less well paid specialities like general practice,” he added.
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Joe Hockey welcomes GDP figures, a 'pleasing set of numbers'

Date September 3, 2014 - 8:35PM

Gareth Hutchens, Georgia Wilkins

Treasurer Joe Hockey has cautiously welcomed the latest GDP figures, saying they are a "pleasing set of numbers" that show a "real and building momentum" in the economy, despite a small slowdown in economic activity in the past three months.
But he acknowledged the unemployment rate was "still too high" and economic growth remained weak overall, as Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens warned record house prices in Sydney and Melbourne were starting to crimp monetary policy.
The economy grew by just 0.5 per cent in the June quarter, bringing annual growth to 3.1 per cent, with most of that growth coming from firms stockpiling their goods in the face of falling exports.
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Plenty of worries in Hockey's lovely numbers

Date September 4, 2014

Peter Martin

Analysis
Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens' warning about house prices is instructive in two ways. One is that while he might want to give the economy a boost, ''further inflating an already elevated level of housing prices seems an unwise route to try to achieve that''.
The other is that he thinks the economy might need a bit of a boost.
It is in sharp contrast with the assessment of Treasurer Joe Hockey delivered just hours earlier. Mr Hockey told Wednesday's traditional national accounts press conference that he had just received ''a pleasing set of numbers''. There was ''real and building momentum in the Australian economy''.
Then why on earth was the governor thinking there might be a case for giving it a boost and thinking he was under pressure to further push up house prices in order to do it?
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Immigration official gets top health job

4 September, 2014 Ruby Prosser Scully
Immigration secretary Martin Bowles, who has been at the centre of controversy over the healthcare of asylum seekers in mandatory detention, is to become the new bureaucratic head of the Federal Department of Health.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott made the announcement on Wednesday, saying Mr Bowles (pictured) would replace Jane Halton, who has moved to the Department of Finance.
In his role as Secretary for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, Mr Bowles gave evidence at July’s Human Rights Commission hearings into alleged abuses against children in detention.
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The demise of the ANPHA: why it will be ‘drinks all round’ for the alcohol industry and others

Marie McInerney | Sep 01, 2014 10:55AM
A recent seminar at the University of Sydney examined the legacy of the Australian National Preventive Health Agency (ANPHA) in an event also billed by some as “a wake for preventive health”.
In the article below, Stephen Leeder, Emeritus Professor of Public Health and Community Medicine at the University of Sydney and Editor-in-Chief of The Medical Journal of Australia, explains why some industries will celebrate this loss for public health.
We need national leadership to provide “a counterweight to the big-time, burly avarice that drives health-destroying profiteering”, he says.
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First Year Of Abbott Government Review.

Mixed report card on Tony Abbott's first anniversary as prime minister

Date September 6, 2014

Mark Kenny

Chief political correspondent

As world leaders muddled though the frustrating weeks after the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, few wanted to speak entirely frankly. Commercial contracts, strategic interests, domestic concerns, and evidentiary gaps tempered many comments.
But then, like a foghorn through the mist came a simple unvarnished truth carried on an Australian accent:
"Right at this moment, Russian forces are massing on the border with Ukraine," Australia's Tony Abbott told the world from a Sydney kerbside on August 8.
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Hockey has the right instincts, but has a long way to go to fix the economy

Date September 6, 2014

Peter Martin

Economics Editor, The Age

So confident was the Coalition that it could fire up the economy on winning office that it believed the mere act of getting elected would do much of the work.
"I think companies will unleash their balance sheets, and I think consumers will as well if there is a change of government," Joe Hockey said in the lead up to the election.
His plan was to get out of the way. "I am very mindful that we don't want to be the ones that close down that optimism," he told the business lunch in Sydney.
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Election anniversary: Health

Date September 6, 2014

Dan Harrison

Health and Indigenous Affairs Correspondent

It did not rate a mention in the election campaign, but Peter Dutton's controversial proposal for a $7 fee to visit the doctor dominated his first year as Health Minister.
The coalition's proposal, , which would apply to pathology and diagnostic imaging services such as blood tests and X-rays as well as GP visits has been almost universally condemned by health and welfare groups, who say it would hit the poor and sick hardest and increase pressure on already stretched public hospitals.
With Labor, the Greens and the Palmer United Party stridently opposed to the fee, it appears unlikely to pass the Senate, but the government remains hopeful the measure could pass with the support of the mercurial  Clive Palmer and other crossbenchers.
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Education: Abbott government year in review

Date September 6, 2014

Matthew Knott

Communications and education correspondent

It was the education revolution no one saw coming. The Coalition went to the last election without a detailed higher education policy; universities barely rated a mention during the 2013 campaign. As Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott said last year that universities only needed fine-tuning, not re-engineering.
"In an era of busy government and constant change, it's insufficiently recognised how often masterly inactivity can be the best contribution that government can make to a particular sector," Mr Abbott told Universities Australia's higher education conference. "A period of relative policy stability in which changes already made can be digested and adjusted to … is probably what our universities most need now."
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Inconvenient truths about Tony Abbott

Date September 7, 2014 - 12:00AM

Annabel Crabb

Exactly one year has now passed since the day on which Australia woke up early, puttered around for a bit, went up the polling booth, had a sausage in a bit of bread, and elected Tony Abbott as this nation's Prime Minister.
Tony Abbott as Prime Minister, with a dinosaur-collecting loon calling the shots in the Senate. After a turbulent few years aboard the Good Ship Aussie Democracy, this did not seem to be a result exactly guaranteed to restore national equanimity.
And in the past year, we have established many things about Tony Abbott, Prime Minister. Some of them are surprising. Some are not.
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Abbott Government’s first year in office: what’s the verdict on health?

Marie McInerney | Sep 05, 2014 12:27PM
This Sunday marks the first anniversary of the election of the Abbott Government.
We’ll leave it up to Croakey readers to characterise the year in health – feel free to post (publishable) comments and we’ll share them.
This post below from The Conversation by Jim Gillespie, Deputy Director of the Menzies Centre for Health Policy & Associate Professor in Health Policy at University of Sydney provides a great wrap, noting:
Abbott’s small-target election strategy left health with few promises other than the assurance that his would be a “no surprises, no excuses government”. In practice, health has become the largest arena for apparent broken promises and unexpected surprises.
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Medical Research Fund.

Financial Review Sunday transcript, August 31, 2014

Medical research

Deborah Knight, Financial Review Sunday: Well, the future of the government’s planned $20 billion medical research fund is on shaky ground, prompting corporate leaders and medical researchers to band together to try to win over a divided senate. Business argues now is not the time to skimp on health research and Health Minister Peter Dutton has told Financial Review Sunday that a smaller fund will go through with or without the controversial GP co-payment.
Chris Roberts, CEO, Cochlear: The more you invest, the more benefits you get and some of those benefits are companies like Cochlear.
Alastair Lucas, Goldman Sachs vice chair: We all understand we are living in a tight budgetary role and this $20 billion, it is a lot of money. It is our role to explain to the government, to parliamentarians, to all stakeholders, the enormous benefits that $20 billion will bring to our nation.
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Medical future fund will remain even if co-payment blocked: Dutton

Date September 1, 2014

Jessica Gardner and Jemima Whyte

Health Minister Peter Dutton says the government will push through a smaller Medical Research Future Fund if its embattled GP co-payment fails, as business and medical researchers raise the pressure to get the proposed $20 billion fund over the line.
''The medical research future fund without the co-payment will be much smaller, no doubt about that,'' Mr Dutton said on Sunday.
''If the co-payment falls over, then that is going to be a big blow to the medical research future fund.''
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Medical research fund is no gimmick: it will enhance the quality of life for all

MEDICAL research is without doubt one of the most important endeavours in the 21st century, not only because of all the inroads that have been made to date, and millions of lives that have been saved, but also because of all the inroads yet to be made. Invariably, this will save many lives. It will make a big difference to the quality of life of the families of the sick who will be spared the emotional cost of watching a loved one suffer a terminal illness.
Success will come only with continued investment from philanthropists, charitable and religious organisations, the business community and governments.
This issue has been close to my heart since a young age. As a teenager I imagined I would be a medical researcher one day, finding cures for diseases. I even pictured myself in the lab coat carrying out important work that would make a difference to a life dear to me.
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Medicare Sale and GP Trials.

Medibank chief pushes private health for chronically ill

Joanna Heath
Medibank chief executive George Savvides has defended the private health insurer’s aggressive push into primary care as the government makes final preparations for the company’s privatisation.
The diversification of the private health insurer’s business into the primary care space is expected to be a significant feature of the sales pitch to potential investors, though pilot programs are still in their early stages.
“The bigger picture is when you look at what health insurers insure, guess what, where’s the GP? Everybody knows if you want to manage the health and wellbeing of the patient, then the GP is really critical,” Mr Savvides told the Weekend AFR.
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GP Co-Payment.

GP co-payment looks set to fail in Senate

Updated: 6:29 am, Wednesday, 27 August 2014
The Palmer United Party will vote down the $7 Medicare co-payment, suggesting the budget measure will die in the Senate.
PUP senators voted unanimously against a GP charge of even one cent today.
But the government doesn't appear to be giving up the fight easily as speculation continues it's about to make concessions to garner support.
-AAP
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Palmer won't support any co-payment

August 26, 2014, 12:46 pm
The government's $7 Medicare co-payment plan appears dead, with Clive Palmer saying his party will not support a GP charge "of even one cent".
The Palmer United Party voted against the measure at a strategy meeting on Tuesday, assuring $3.5 billion in budget savings will be blocked in the Senate.
Labor and the Greens are also opposed to the unpopular payment.
Mr Palmer said he and his senators had unanimously decided not to support a doctor's charge.
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Federal assistant minister for health Fiona Nash defends $7 Medicare co-payment while on Bunbury health tour

By James Taylor

Sept. 5, 2014, 2:46 p.m.
THE federal assistant minister for health has used a tour of the South West Aboriginal Medical Service clinic to defend applying the government's proposed $7 Medicare co-payment to the service.
Senator Fiona Nash joined Nationals member for the South West Colin Holt MLC and SWAMS chief executive officer Neil Fong for a look at the Bunbury-based clinic on Friday.
The contentious co-payment  would apply to all Medicare-funded consultations, including those provided by 20 Aboriginal health services across regional and metropolitan Western Australia, including SWAMS.
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Pharmacy Related Articles.

Let us do more, say pharmacists

Joanna Heath
The Pharmacy Guild has a rare ­reputation in Canberra’s corridors of power: what it says, goes.
But if you ask the chief executive, George Tambassis, the pharmacy owners’ union gets its influence only if it acts like a model citizen.
“I think I’m at the helm of a very respectful organisation and with respect, others can ponder whether power comes with that. Everywhere I go, and I meet people from inside and outside pharmacy, there is always a lot of respect for the Pharmacy Guild.”
A few people might disagree, namely Roger Corbett, former chief executive of Woolworths, who publicly clashed with the guild in the early 2000s over an attempt to introduce pharmacies into his supermarkets. He described the pharmacy industry as “the biggest anti-competitive ­gerrymander in Australia”.
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Guild push for expansion of remunerated services

2 September, 2014 Christie Moffat
Pharmacy Guild leaders are boosting their ongoing public relations campaign by outlining a range of opportunities that exist for remunerated serivces in community pharmacy.
The push for community pharmacy to take on a greater role in providing health care services was emphasised by Guild NSW president Paul Sinclair, who addressed the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) in Bangkok this week.
Mr Sinclair noted that vaccinations, home support for older people, and pain management services all offered an opportunity for community pharmacy to contribute to the primary health care sector.
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Pharmacists plan plunder of primary care, says AMA

THE federal Government must immediately rule out doing a deal with the Pharmacy Guild of Australia to provide medical health checks at chemist shops, says the Australian medical Association.
Sydney media yesterday (Tuesday, September 2) reported the guild is planning a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign to back up its lobbying efforts for pharmacists to take over the role of doctors in primary care, says AMA president Associate Professor Brian Owler.
The guild is not behaving like a “model citizen” in the health community, he says in a statement today (Wednesday, September 3).
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Keep ‘chemist shop’ owners out of primary care: AMA

3 September, 2014 Christie Moffat
The Australian Medical Association (AMA) says Guild proposals to expand the role of pharmacy are proposing a “dangerous and irresponsible” model of primary care.
AMA president Professor Brian Owler (pictured) said that the Pharmacy Guild of Australia was using primary health care as a “bargaining chip” to secure the best deal for pharmacy owners, not patients, under the upcoming Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement (6CPA).
The response follows recent reports that the Guild has launched an expansive media campaign to lobby for expanded services in pharmacies, with the aim of receiving government remuneration.
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Professional service caps likely to remain

1 September, 2014 Christie Moffat
Caps on professional service numbers are likely to be retained in the Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement (6CPA), leading Guild officials believe.
However, negotiations over the Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement (6CPA) are unlikely to affect current ownership or location rules.
Speaking at a panel discussion at the annual Australian College of Pharmacy conference in Hobart, Guild figures Ian Todd (pictured), John Dowling, Trent Twomey and Tim Logan addressed issues surrounding the upcoming negotiations.
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Pharmacy furore hots up

The furore over pharmacists’ bid to expand into paid primary care has heated up, with the industry’s peak professional body hitting back at the AMA view that the idea is “dangerous and irresponsible”.
The pharmacists want to give vaccinations and receive government funding for checking cholesterol and blood pressure, but AMA head Professor Brian Owler says this will fragment patient care, and undermine the doctor-patient relationship.
Pharmaceutical Society of Australia vice-president Joe Demarte hit back on Friday, saying: “Pharmacists do not want to take over the role of doctors, and to reduce discussion about our future role to that level is a disservice to doctors, pharmacists and the Australian public.”
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Medicare Locals.

Hunter Medicare Local Chair resigns

Posted yesterday at 2:34pmTue 2 Sep 2014, 2:34pm
The board chair of Hunter Medicare Local has become the organisation's latest senior appointment to resign.
Karen Howard has told Hunter Medicare Local today her resignation is effective immediately.
Former chief executive officer Carol Bennett resigned suddenly in June, after a short stint in the top job.
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Hunter Medicare Local appoints Dr Trent Watson as new chair

By ASHLEIGH GLEESON
Sept. 5, 2014, 10:18 a.m.
THE Hunter Medicare Local board has appointed Dr Trent Watson as the organisation’s new chair after the shock resignation of Karen Howard on Wednesday.
Dr Watson is a practicing dietician and the CEO of Ethos Health.
He works in consultancy positions with a number of professional sports organisations. He also works with Channel 10’s the Biggest Loser.
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Comment:
It seems the fuss is not yet settled - and Mr Palmer, who will have a major influence on outcomes, seems more unpredictable than ever.
Lots to browse with all sorts of initiatives seemingly slowed or not being voted on - like the Co-Payment.
One really has to wonder if all this security alarm is not meant to distract from the Budget….
I also have to say reading all the articles I still have no idea what is actually going to happen with the Budget at the end of the day!
To remind readers there is also a great deal of useful health discussion here from The Conversation.
Also a huge section on the overall budget found here:
Enjoy.
David.

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