Thursday, November 06, 2014

Review Of The Ongoing Post - Budget Controversy 06th November 2014. No Sign Of Stopping!

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 23nd week since it was released.
Other financial matters are still also bubbling along and now with Parliament not sitting for a few weeks it is even harder to be sure where things will actually land!


Senate standoff over budget savings could trigger more public service job cuts

Date October 27, 2014 - 9:30AM

Phillip Thomson

Public Service Reporter at The Canberra Times.

Low iron ore prices and the Senate stalemate over budget savings could prompt a fresh announcement of further public service job cuts which would hurt Canberra, according to Deloitte Access Economics.
Deloitte Access Economics partner Chris Richardson said the federal bureaucracy would pay the cost of Treasurer Joe Hockey's options being reduced.
"The levers the government can control relate to public service numbers," Mr Richardson said.

Hockey backs Murdoch's comments that low rates make the rich richer

Updated about  28 Oct 2014, 10:58am
It is a harsh critique from an unlikely source. In a speech to the world's most powerful finance ministers and central bankers, News Corp's executive chairman Rupert Murdoch has accused them of making policies to benefit the super rich.
The media baron made the speech two weeks ago at a closed door event in Washington.
In it, he blamed the leaders for increasing inequality, said the ladder of generational progress was now at risk, and warned that a moment of great global reckoning had arrived.

Joe Hockey says monetary policy exhausted, made ‘rich richer’

Jacob Greber Economics correspondent

Key points

  • Joe Hockey calls for labour-market deregulation and reduced barriers to trade, as well as budget reform, in the face of limits on government spending.
  • He says the Australian economy faces ‘headwinds’, but is not concerned about the growth rate in China, saying it is still strong at its current 7.3 per cent.
Treasurer Joe Hockey has declared the ability of official interest rate cuts to spur economic growth has been exhausted, having mainly had the effect so far of making rich people richer.
Speaking as the Abbott government opened the prospect of changes to the goods and services tax, Mr Hockey said the only mechanism to generate fresh jobs and economic activity was to undertake domestic reforms.
He said the alternative of ramping up government spending was also limited because most countries around the world did not have the money or ability to “put it on the credit card for ever”.

Export price slide set to hit MYEFO

  • AAP
  • 30 Oct, 6:24 PM
Declining national income is another headache for Treasurer Joe Hockey as he prepares for his mid-year budget review.
Mr Hockey told parliament on Thursday that thanks to the opposition, $28 billion of savings were being obstructed in the Senate, some of which were announced by Labor in government.
The government also has to find $630 million for increased national security, as well as the cost of military action in Iraq.
On top of this, revenue - at least for this financial year - is not living up to expectations.

Abbott's fuel tax stance signals new case-by-case approach

Date October 31, 2014 - 12:00AM

Mark Kenny

Chief political correspondent

When Tony Abbott called for a "mature debate" on the federation including, most heroically, the Goods and Services Tax, the opposition nearly choked on its Weeties. From a government elected on the bluntest mandate in history to scrap taxes, the possibility of expanding the reach of one of the biggest was a stretch.
The fact that recidivist Abbott has a rap-sheet as long as your arm of misdemeanours against the kind of political maturity he now seeks, did not help. Which doesn't make the call wrong. Just harder to cop. Nevertheless there are signs that "Captain Combat" is repositioning in his second year, with his language displaying a more conciliatory tone and hinting at a new tendency to negotiate.
Abbott, it seems, has concluded that a combination of policy substance and a willingness to talk offers the government the best chance of longer-term progress. Who knows whether  all the reflection on Gough Whitlam's courage reminded the incumbent of the fleeting nature of power.

Our ageing population not necessarily bad news

Date November 1, 2014 - 12:15AM

Ross Gittins

The Sydney Morning Herald's Economics Editor

Politicians and economists have been banging on about the ageing of the population for ages, but how much do we actually know about the likely economic consequences? Not much - until now.
We've been told incessantly that ageing spells bad news for the budget - greatly increased spending on pensions and healthcare - with ageing used to help justify the harsh spending cuts proposed in this year's budget.
In truth, it has suited the powers-that-be to exaggerate ageing's effect on the budget. And oldies are right to resent the way ageing has been presented as nothing but a terrible problem. If the fact that we're living longer, healthier lives is a "problem", it's the best kind of problem to have.

Samantha Maiden: Workers should fear Tony Abbott’s creepy taxes

  • Samantha Maiden
  • The Sunday Telegraph
  • November 02, 2014 12:00AM
THINK for a moment about the biggest, nastiest measures in Joe Hockey’s budget, the tough decisions deemed necessary to get the budget back to surplus.
There’s the petrol tax increases that Tony Abbott announced this week would apply from November 10, despite the fact the Senate has rejected the laws.
That will rip $2 billion out of motorists pockets over the next four years. These are the changes that prompted newspapers to dub the PM a “bowser bandit’’. But the increase will cost the average family a modest 40 cents a week.

Australia's stance on tax avoidance out of step says Bill Shorten

Date November 2, 2014 - 12:15AM

Bill Shorten and Andrew Leigh

The "Double Irish Dutch sandwich" sounds like something questionable you'd find on the menu at backpacker-run cafe.
But it's actually a notorious tax loophole in Ireland which allows huge multinational companies to get away with paying tiny amounts of tax through shifting money between multiple countries.
For almost 30 years, some big global firms - including companies operating in Australia - have been using this loophole to pay tiny amounts of tax.

Transpacific Partnership Trade Agreement.

AMA wants assurance TPP deal won't push up medicine prices

Updated 26 Oct 2014, 4:20pm
The Australian Medical Association (AMA) wants assurances that a Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal will not push up medicine prices.
Federal Trade Minister Andrew Robb is hosting talks with 11 counterparts in Sydney this weekend, as progress towards a multi-lateral trade deal inches closer.
If it is signed, the TPP agreement would cover 40 per cent of the global economy, and include countries like the United States, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Peru, Chile and Australia.
AMA president Professor Brian Owler said the agreement could be beneficial, as long as it did not inflate medicine costs.

Concern over medicine price increases

October 26, 2014
Doctors in Australia are calling for assurances the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement will not push up the price of medicines.
The ABC reports Australian Trade Minister Andrew Robb is hosting talks on the trade deal with 11 counterparts in Sydney - including New Zealand's Tim Groser.
Mr Groser said medicines would not be made more expensive if New Zealand signs up to the TPP agreement.
The TPP involves 12 countries including the United States, Japan and Australia representing 40 percent of all world trade, and would be the biggest trade agreement ever signed.
But Mr Groser said last week that despite the size of the prize, New Zealand's ability to source cheap drugs through Pharmac would not be negotiated away.

Medibank Private Sale.

Australia to list Medibank as state winds back health insurance subsidies

By Byron Kaye
SYDNEY Tue Oct 28, 2014 5:18am IST
Oct 28 (Reuters) - Just as it prepares to list state-owned health insurer Medibank Private, Asia's biggest initial public offering in two years, Australia is quietly unwinding the generous subsidies that had determined the company's fortune over the past decade.
The planned $5 billion privatisation of Australia's biggest health insurer opens for retail investors on Tuesday, and its backers are talking it up as a way to gain exposure to a sector that has enjoyed steady growth thanks to a system of state subsidies as well as the country's ageing population.
While demand is expected to be strong, the rollback of government payments is casting a cloud over the long-term future of the industry as hundreds of thousands of Australians may be forced to drop their private insurance coverage.


Health Minister Peter Dutton says there is 'no chance' Ebola can spread in Australia as it has in West Africa

Date October 27, 2014 - 7:53AM

James Massola

Political correspondent

Health Minister Peter Dutton says that even if an Ebola case appears in Australia, it would be contained by our first-class medical system and there was "no chance" it would spread rapidly as it has in West Africa.
Mr Dutton has moved to reassure Australians concerned about the deadly virus while confirming negotiations were progressing with Britain for that country to provide treatment to any Australian who deployed to combat the virus and became infected.
He took aim at Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek's "hysterical" calls for Australia to send personnel immediately, suggesting a political split between her and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten over the crisis. Mr Dutton and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop have written to Mr Shorten to ask for a return to a bipartisan approach on the virus.

Ebola: Australian hospitals well prepared, says Professor Lyn Gilbert

Date October 30, 2014 - 5:39PM

Harriet Alexander

Health reporter

The infectious diseases expert tasked with overseeing Australia's response to the Ebola virus says hospitals are well prepared for the virus despite widespread panic in the community.
Westmead Hospital's Director of Infection Prevention and Control, Lyn Gilbert, declined to comment on whether the federal government should be sending medical staff to West Africa, or on the visa ban on people immigrating from Ebola-affected countries.
But she said local hospitals were well equipped to deal with anybody exhibiting Ebola symptoms.

Ebola hospital to accept Australian workers

Published: 2:58 pm, Friday, 31 October 2014
Confirmation that Australian health workers who help Ebola victims in west Africa will have access to a US field hospital means the government has run out of excuses to act, Labor says.
Deputy opposition leader Tanya Plibersek met with senior US government officials this week to discuss the global response to the outbreak, which has killed more than 5000 people.
She's been told the field hospital, to be based in Liberia, will be available to health workers of any nationality.
'I haven't been given a day, but within days,' Ms Plibersek told ABC Radio on Friday when asked when it would be operational.

Medical Research.

Alzheimer's disease blood test at risk of running out of money

Date October 27, 2014

Scott Hannaford

The Sunday Canberra Times editor.

Work on a simple blood test that could help identify and prevent one of the biggest health concerns facing Australians, Alzheimer's disease, is at risk of stalling due to a cloud over funding.
Since 2006 teams of researchers across the country have been studying more than 1100 Australians at regular intervals, collecting data they hope will pinpoint lifestyle and health factors that lead to Alzheimer's disease. 
Dementia, of which Alzheimer's disease accounts for around 60 per cent of all cases, is the single biggest cause of disability in older Australians, costing the nation at least $4.9 billion a year in direct health and aged care. Around 1.13 million Australians are expected to be suffering dementia by 2050.

Elite business group lobbies for Medical Research Future Fund with or without $7 GP co-payment

By social affairs correspondent Norman Hermant
October 30, 2014, 7:26 am
An elite group of Australian business leaders is pressuring the Federal Government to push ahead with plans for the Medical Research Future Fund – with or without the controversial $7 Medicare co-payment unveiled in this year's federal budget. 
The co-payment was designed to help pay for the $20 billion medical research fund. But its passage now appears increasingly unlikely.
The members of the Medical Research Future Fund Action Group say Canberra must find the money regardless.

GP Co-Payment.

PM admits thousands to forego tests because of co-payment

Thousands of potentially deadly illnesses may go undetected until they are well advanced because of the Federal Government’s $7 co-payment for diagnostic imaging services and other Budget measures, it has been claimed.
As the Federal Government continues to struggle to secure the support it needs to introduce its co-payment, Prime Minister Tony Abbott has admitted that there are likely to be a million fewer diagnostic imaging tests each year, many of them for potentially fatal conditions such as breast cancer and liver metastasis, by 2017.
Asked by Opposition Leader Bill Shorten in Question Time last week whether he was aware of estimates there would be 680,000 fewer such tests in 2015-16 and about one million less by 2017, the Prime Minister said that “the short answer is yes and yes”.

Government could sidestep parliament to introduce GP fee

  • October 30, 2014 10:00PM
  • Sue Dunlevy National Health Reporter
  • News Corp Australia Network
THE controversial GP fee could be bought into effect without parliamentary approval in the same way the government this week sidestepped the parliament to introduce petrol indexation.
Health Minister Peter Dutton on Thursday October 30 repeatedly refused to rule out using a regulation to cut Medicare rebates by $5 to achieve the $3.5 billion in savings from the GP fee outlined in the budget.
The government is facing an uphill battle getting Senate approval for legislation to impose the fee which is opposed by the Australian Medical Association and other key health groups.
The Opposition, the Greens and the Palmer United Party say they will not support the fee.

Pharmacy Related Articles.

Pharmacy begins its PR fightback

28 October, 2014 Chris Brooker
After a year of criticism from a range of sources, pharmacy has launched its own campaign to retain the hearts and minds of Australians – and show how it can improve the healthcare bottom line.
The Pharmacy Guild of Australia has launched its ‘Discover More. Ask your Pharmacist’ campaign, which encourages Australians to learn more about the services available in community pharmacies. 
The campaign also aims to demonstrate the savings pharmacy can contribute to Australia’s health budget.

Give money to GPs, not 6CPA: AMA

31 October, 2014 Christie Moffat
The Government is “better off” investing its money in general practice than paying for the expansion of pharmacist-led services in the Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement, a senior AMA figure says.
AMA head of general practice Dr Brian Morton (pictured) says that recent moves by the PSA to advocate GP-type services in pharmacies were “disappointing” and “illogical”.
Writing in AMA publication Australian Medicine, Dr Morton argued that proposing to pay pharmacists a consultation fee at the same rate as GPs would only serve to significantly increase the Government’s expenditure on primary health care services.

Pharmacists support consult-linked dispense fee

31 October, 2014 Chris Brooker
Most pharmacists support dispensing fees being differentiated according to the level of patient interaction involved in each consult.
In one of the more surprising findings from the 2014 UTS Pharmacy Barometer, similar numbers of owners and employed pharmacists were in favour of dispensing fee differentiation.
In fact, a higher proportion of owners (66%), than employed pharmacists (64%), endorsed the concept, which had been previously resisted by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia. Even more (72%) of pharmacy managers agreed.

Medicare Locals.

Northern Melbourne Medicare Local health changes cause confusion

Lexi Cottee

The disbanding of Medicare Local offices and a realignment of health care boundaries are creating confusion in Melbourne’s north.
All resources of the Northern Melbourne Medicare Local (NMML) will be split up under a new health network model, which will double the client catchment area each network will cover.
The federal government is creating six new Primary Health Networks (PHN) from the merging or splitting up of Victoria’s 17 Medicare Locals to form significantly larger and more diverse catchments, with the changes due by July 1 next year.

Less-than-local replacement for Medicare Locals

One of the Federal Government’s new Primary Health Networks will span a massive 2.2 million square kilometres under boundaries drawn up by the Health Department.
Federal Health Minister Peter Dutton has announced that 30 Primary Health Networks will be established to replace 61 Medicare Locals as part of the Government’s overhaul of arrangements to support primary health services nationwide.
The overhaul was prompted by widespread dissatisfaction among GPs with the operation of Medicare Locals, and Abbott Government claims that the system established by Labor was top heavy and consumed funds in administration rather than being directed to frontline care.
The AMA has welcomed the move to dump Medicare Locals, and said it was prepared to work closely with the Government to ensure the PHNs were an effective replacement.

The rural health risks of the transition to Primary Health Networks

Jennifer Doggett | Oct 31, 2014 12:03AM |
The transition from Medicare Locals to Primary Health Networks is one of the most significant challenges currently facing our health system.
The success (or otherwise) of these new primary health care organisations will have far reaching and long term impacts on the health of our community.
The outcomes of the PHNs will also be a test of the Abbott Government’s policy credentials in health, in particular of some of the Government’s ideas around the involvement of private health insurance, the role of the market in health and the measurement of performance.
In this third instalment of the rural health series, Lesley Barclay, Deputy Chairperson, and Dane Morling, Policy Adviser, National Rural Health Alliance (NRHA) discuss the implications of the transition to PHNs for rural communities and, in particular, argue that rural communities have specific primary health care needs which may not be met by some of the possible operators of PHNs, such as private health insurance funds.
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. Maybe the next few weeks of parliament will clarify things this time but I doubt it.
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:

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