Thursday, September 25, 2014

Review Of The Ongoing Post - Budget Controversy 25th 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.
Here are some of the more interesting articles I have spotted this 17th week since it was released.
Parliament is back this week so we will see what happens.

General.

Stephen Leeder: Let’s manage care

Stephen Leeder
Monday, 15 September, 2014
THE challenge we all face as doctors is how to manage the rising tide of patients with chronic illness.
Our success in preventing death from heart disease is a fine example of our dilemma. Mortality rates have tumbled but patients who previously would have died live on with damage, which can progress over years to heart failure.
Cancer has become a chronic disease, requiring ambulatory care services for years with only short hospital admissions at diagnosis and initial treatment, and at the end of life.
We have good health services in Australia but they exist within formal boundaries of hospital, general practice and community care. Getting these elements together is a big deal.
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Medecins Sans Frontieres slams Australia’s Ebola response

  • September 17, 2014 7:40PM
  • Sue Dunlevy National Health Reporter
  • News Corp Australia Network
The Federal Government has been embarrassed over its $7 million response to the Ebola virus with an international medical group rejecting the money and demanding Australian doctors be sent to Africa instead.
Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders) executive director Paul McPhun has told News Corp he won’t accept the $2.5 million Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced would go to his group.
“We have made clear we are not in a position to take the money,” he said.
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Aged care: funding cuts will impact on elderly patients

Date September 21, 2014 - 12:03AM

Julieanne Strachan

Reporter for The Sunday Canberra Times.

Funding cuts to aged care are hitting the nation's nursing homes hard and have been branded "cruel and heartless" by the federal opposition.
The Sunday Canberra Times revealed last week that advocates for aged care were alarmed over staffing levels in nursing homes, saying too few staff in some facilities meant elderly care was being compromised.
The Federal government withdrew its $16 a day Dementia and Severe Behaviours Supplement on July 31, which had allowed nursing homes to put on extra staff and was aimed at improving quality of life for vulnerable patients.
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Budget backdown: Treasurer Joe Hockey’s plan to slash aged pension and family handouts to be blocked by the Senate

  • EXCLUSIVE Samantha Maiden National Political Editor
  • The Sunday Telegraph
  • September 21, 2014 12:00AM
JOE Hockey’s nastiest budget cuts to the aged pension and family tax benefits will be put on ice in a stunning back down set to blow a $9 billion hole in the budget.
Some of the most contentious measures in the unpopular May budget face certain defeat, with Labor, the Greens and Clive Palmer united in blocking cuts to the indexation of the aged pension and family payments for over one million parents.
For the first time, Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews has now privately signalled to cross bench senators that he is prepared to cut a deal with Labor, listing the legislation for debate in the Senate this Tuesday. Government sources confirmed they hoped the amended legislation will be passed by the Senate the following week but the deal is likely to gut the most contentious budget measures.
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GP Co-Payment.

Michael Gliksman: Risky policy

Michael Gliksman
Monday, 15 September, 2014
IT’S almost 40 years since the Whitlam government introduced a publicly funded universal health care scheme called Medibank, which became Medicare almost 10 years later.
We were the twelfth nation in the world to introduce universal health care.
Now an Australian government seems intent on destroying the battered principal of universality — access to health care that responds to individual need, not individual income — that has survived despite the gradual erosion of the real value of rebates by successive federal Labor and Liberal governments. And it is set to do it with the perhaps unwitting assistance of the AMA.
Under the government’s proposal, Medicare rebates will be cut by more than $3.5 billion, with GPs to collect a $7 copayment from each patient for each occasion of service. The proposals are deeply unpopular. The effect on the less well off would be devastating.
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Five more reasons we should not have co-payments on GP visits

Michelle Hughes | Sep 18, 2014 6:53PM | EMAIL | PRINT
The GP co-payment had a brief period in the sun recently when the MRFF Action Group was formed to support the medical research fund.
The health sector was quick to respond that while the Medical research fund was a positive development its funding source was unacceptable.
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Medical Research Fund.

Medical research fund should not be political football, say experts

Date September 16, 2014 - 6:42AM

Matthew Knott, Fergus Hunter

Leading medical researchers have urged politicians not to let the federal government's proposed $20 billion fund for medical research become a victim of the divisive debate about the $7 GP co-payment fee.
Researchers, including immunologist and former Australian of the Year Gustav Nossal, admit their advocacy for the fund has been stifled by how it will be financed.
"This is a visionary idea for our children and grandchildren," Sir Gustav said. "I'd urge politicians with every fibre of my being to pick this idea up and run with it. 
"The debate has been muted because many people have been antagonistic to the co-payment [but] the potential for the Medical Research Future Fund is absolutely tremendous.
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Aust below par on medical research funding

  • September 16, 2014 10:05AM
  • AAP
AUSTRALIA is lagging behind on public funding for medical research and must back the federal government's plan for a $20 billion endowment fund, the scientific community says.
COMMONWEALTH investment in health and medical research is currently 64 per cent of the OECD average, and well behind comparable countries such as the UK, Canada and Korea.
The coalition government wants to set up a Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), backed by money collected from a new $7 GP visit co-payment.
Now leading figures have formed a MRFF Action Group to back the initiative, which is facing opposition in the Senate where key crossbenchers are opposed to the co-payment requirement.
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Action group formed to back co-payment plan

16 September, 2014
Australia is lagging behind on public funding for medical research and must back the federal government's plan for a $20 billion endowment fund, the scientific community says.
Commonwealth investment in health and medical research is currently 64%t of the OECD average, and well behind comparable countries such as the UK, Canada and Korea.
The coalition government wants to set up a Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), backed by money collected from a new $7 GP visit co-payment.
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Families will turn to Dr Google if Medicare co-payment is introduced

  • JEN KELLY
  • Herald Sun
  • September 15, 2014 9:35PM
A THIRD of families say they will visit the doctor less often if the proposed $7 Medicare co-payment is introduced by the federal government.
Many mums and dads quizzed in the Herald Sun Primary School Parents’ survey said they would put off visits to the doctor unless it was urgent.
Others said they would turn to “Dr Google”, try natural cures, wait until the illness worsens or rely on their own “amateur diagnoses”.
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16 Sep 2014 - 3:10pm

Co-payment not needed for fund: scientists

Leading scientists and health industry figures say the Medical Research Future Fund can survive without the GP co-payment
AAP
16 Sep 2014 - 10:00 AM  UPDATED YESTERDAY 3:10 PM
The $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund needs to go ahead with or without the $7 Medicare co-payment, according to Australia's leading scientists.
The co-payment announced in the May budget was intended to pay for the fund, but has met widespread criticism.
Internationally renowned Australian scientist Sir Gustav Nossal says the promised $20 billion could be raised by other means.
Sir Gustav is part of a group of leading Australian scientists and health researchers who are campaigning for the fund to go ahead.
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Pharmacy Related Articles.

Crackdown on unapproved pharmacies

16 September, 2014 Chris Brooker
The Federal government has announced a crackdown on pharmacies that dispense PBS medicines without an approval number.
In a statement issued today, Health Minister Peter Dutton says the Department of Health has “become aware of a small number of instances where approved pharmacists appear to be claiming for the supply of pharmaceutical benefits where the supply was not made at or from approved premises”.
Pharmacists who fail to comply with requirements under the National Health Act could have their approval status suspended or revoked, meaning they would no longer be able to supply and claim for pharmaceutical benefits, Mr Dutton warned.
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A matter of ethics: the homeopathy debate

15 September, 2014 David Brill
What will it take for pharmacists to stop selling diet pills, detoxes and homeopathic products? David Brill examines the debate around  stocking 'bogus' medicines.
On an otherwise unremarkable high street in Taree, NSW, two doors down from the Bait & Tackle fishing shop, stands a pharmacy with a difference.  
To the untrained eye, Saxby's might look like any other Australian chemist.   
But inside, a quiet revolution is underway, and the very soul of the pharmacy profession is at stake.  
What sets this store apart is the refusal of its owner, Ian Carr, to stock the bogus products that have become all too commonplace on pharmacy shelves in recent years. Gone are the 'miracle' diet pills, the 'detox' cleansers, the herbal supplements and the ear candles. If it doesn't have a decent evidence base, Mr Carr does not sell it.   
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Funding pharmacist health checks 'foolish': AMA

18 September, 2014 Chris Brooker
The Federal Government would be “foolish“ to fund pharmacist provision of primary health checks, the AMA believes.
The Pharmacy Guild of Australia’s call for funding for expanded pharmacy services is nothing more than a ploy to strengthen its bargaining position ahead of the 6CPA negiations, says AMA president, Professor Brian Owler.  
Writing in Australian Medicine, Professor Owler accused the Guild of cynically using primary health care as “a bargaining chip in its efforts to secure the best possible deal for pharmacy owners – not patients – under the new Community Pharmacy Agreement”.
Professor Owler was responding to Guild proposals that the Government fund pharmacists to conduct cholesterol and blood pressure checks, administer vaccinations, and devise non-prescription treatments for minor ailments. A fee of $50 for such services had been suggested, he said.
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AMA opposes government funding

19 September, 2014 Chris Brooker
The federal government would be “foolish“ to fund pharmacist provision of primary health checks, the AMA believes.
The Pharmacy Guild of Australia’s call for funding for expanded pharmacy services is nothing more than a ploy to strengthen its bargaining position ahead of the 6th Community Pharmacy Agreement negotiations, says AMA president Professor Brian Owler.  
Writing in Australian Medicine, Professor Owler accused the Guild of cynically using primary health care as “a bargaining chip in its efforts to secure the best possible deal for pharmacy owners – not patients – under the new Community Pharmacy Agreement”.
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Want a pill that will make you rich?

David Leyonhjelm
It is night, a fever takes hold and a mother starts to worry. A bathroom cupboard is raided, but it is full of medicine past its use-by date. A child is bundled into a car. A waiting room is endured. Then a GP provides a prescription.
With child in arms the mother returns to the car, then scratches her head. Where is a chemist that would be open at this time of night?
The mother scrounges for her mobile phone, but it is out of charge. Should she drive around in the hope of finding a chemist that’s open, or trek back home to look one up? Driving past the lit-up supermarket, the mother wonders, “Why is it so hard to find a chemist?”
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Medicare Locals.

Freo Medicare Local in limbo

THE future of Fremantle Medicare Local is still up in the air because the Abbott government is yet to decide what will replace it when funding runs out next year.
The organisation directly runs the Fremantle Street Doctor, the after-hours clinic at Fremantle Hospital, Closing the Gap indigenous health initiatives and the Partners in Recovery program for families affected by mental health issues. All are at risk if FML folds.
FML’s board met last month to discuss its future, but CEO Christa Riegler says there’s still not enough information from the federal government to make a decision.
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After-hours GPs and pharmacies relieve patients’ symptoms of stress

  • Lauren Tesolin
  • Penrith Press
  • September 15, 2014 11:09AM
AN INFLUX of doctors has alleviated a critical shortage of healthcare workers in the Nepean-Blue Mountains region.
Within the past 12 months, more than 16 GPs and practice staff have been recruited to serve the area’s growing population.
The decision to commit more staff in the west came after the area was declared a District of Workforce Shortage (DWS) last November.
Lizz Reay, acting chief executive of the Nepean Blue Mountain Medicare Local, said a DWS was issued as the shortfall of doctors was putting pressure on already stretched existing GP services.
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Comment:
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. Now parliament is back we may get some clarity.
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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