Thursday, November 13, 2014

Review Of The Ongoing Post - Budget Controversy 13th 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 24th 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!
The Government response to Ebola seems to be finally lifting off and the war between doctors and pharmacists has gone ballistic. How stupid are these turf wars!


Tony Abbott's personal approval up, but major policies unpopular: Fairfax Ipsos poll

Date November 3, 2014

James Massola and Heath Aston

Prime Minister Tony Abbott's personal approval has surged with voters over the past three months, while the Coalition has also clawed back support but still narrowly trails Labor in the two-party preferred vote.
The first Fairfax Ipsos nationwide poll shows Mr Abbott and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten are now tied as preferred prime minister, but, worryingly for the government, three key planks of its policy reform agenda are deeply unpopular with voters.
A whopping 64 per cent of voters opposed deregulating the setting of university fees, with just 28 per cent in favour. Forty per cent of voters supported Mr Abbott's signature paid parental leave scheme and 54 per cent opposed it. 
And 41 per cent of voters backed a rise in the GST in exchange for income tax cuts – an idea that came into sharp focus last week as Mr Abbott called for a debate about the federation and tax system – while 52 per cent opposed the idea.

PM claws back from budget lows

Phillip Coorey Chief political correspondent
Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his Coalition government have clawed back to their strongest position since the controversial May budget but would still struggle if an election were held today.
The inaugural Fairfax/Ipsos national poll, which follows recent policy wins in the Parliament and a strong standing on the world stage, shows Mr Abbott closing the gap to match Bill Shorten as preferred prime minister and making strong gains in terms of personal approval.
On a two-party preferred basis, the Coalition trails Labor by 49 per cent to 51 per cent. It has pulled a 5 percentage point lead in the primary vote at 42 per cent to 37 per cent. The Greens are on 12 per cent while Clive Palmer’s Palmer United Party rates just 3 per cent nationally.

Tasmanian hospitals dangerous and patients dying, nurses tell funding inquiry

November 4, 2014, 8:20 pm
Tasmanian's hospitals are operating under dangerous conditions and nurses believe patients have died because the system is overstretched, a Senate inquiry has been told.
The inquiry has been warned by a federally-funded health care provider that Tasmanians will be worse off under looming state and federal funding cuts.
The Labor-dominated inquiry is investigating the impact of Commonwealth funding cuts on hospital and health services.
It is estimated the Federal Government is cutting more than $2 billion from Tasmanian health funding over the next 20 years.

Stage set for big bank showdown with Hockey

Date November 5, 2014

Clancy Yeates

Banking reporter

The stage is being set for a showdown between Joe Hockey and four of the most powerful corporations in the country.
In one corner is a Treasurer facing the prospect of finishing the year without passing key budget measures because they're simply too unpopular.
In the other, corporate titans with millions of customers and hundreds of thousands of small shareholders accustomed to big dividends: the big banks.
The battle will be over who wears the cost of making the financial system more resilient to economic shocks. At least, that's what looks likely after the salvos fired by the chief executives of Westpac and ANZ Bank in recent days.

Supermarket promotions undermining public health

7 November, 2014 Christie Moffat
Australia’s two major supermarket chains are using alcohol discounts to entice new customers, undermining public health initiatives to reduce excessive drinking, research reveals.
A new study in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health examined the alcohol discount offers available across 34 Coles/Bi-Lo and Woolworths supermarkets in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane over a one-week period, and found that 33 of the 34 outlets offered “unprompted” alcohol discounts on receipts for a free bottle of wine.
Point-of-sale and off-trade discounts and promotions were often ‘unmeasured’ and had few legislative or regulatory restrictions, the authors said, with bundling discounts becoming increasingly common in Australian supermarkets.

Medibank Private Sale.

Opposition: Why the Minister should retain veto power over rises in private health premiums

Marie McInerney | Nov 06, 2014 5:59PM | EMAIL | PRINT
The Conversation recently ran this analysis of the draft report of the Federal Government’s Competition Policy Review headed by Professor Ian Harper.
In it, Elizabeth Savage, Professor of Health Economics at University of Technology Sydney, said there were two significant changes to the private health insurance industry that are likely to have an impact on both consumers and the sector.
The first is the removal of regulation that requires ministerial approval for increases in private health insurance premiums, which is tied to evidence of increased cost structures, and its replacement by a “price monitoring scheme”. This will allow increases in insurance premiums only to be subject to competitors’ behaviour in what is a highly concentrated industry. (Top four companies have 75% of policy revenues; the top two – Medibank Private and BUPA – have 56% of the market.)


Govt to assist Ebola workers

6:55pm, Nov 4
Andrew Greene
The federal government has reportedly reached an agreement that would allow it to send Australian health workers to fight the deadly Ebola virus.
The Federal Government is on Wednesday expected to announce plans to help Australian medical staff fight the Ebola virus in Africa.
The ABC has been told cabinet’s National Security Committee had decided to assist volunteers who want to travel to Ebola hotspots in Sierra Leone.
For weeks the government has refused to dispatch doctors or soldiers to west Africa unless it had “iron clad” commitments from other nations to evacuate medical staff who got infected with the deadly disease.

Tony Abbott ramps up Ebola response with medics and money

AUSTRALIAN medics will be sent to Sierra Leone as part of the nation’s “ramped up” response to help control Ebola in West Africa.
Tony Abbott today announced the government would send Australian volunteers to the African country as part of an agreement with the United Kingdom to manage a 100-bed field hospital, and to care for the Australians if they get sick.
The British-controlled centre will be staffed by Australian-owned medical provider Aspen, but the majority of workers will be locals.
Mr Abbott also announced an additional $24 million to help combat the epidemic.

Australians could make up just 10% of team to run Ebola hospital in Sierra Leone

Date November 6, 2014 - 9:07AM

Latika Bourke

National political reporter

The Australian government has contributed a further $24 million to respond to the Ebola crisis, including $20 million for a hospital in Sierra Leone. Photo: AP
The number of Australians dispatched to West Africa to treat Ebola patients could be as low as 24 under the federal government's $20 million pledge to staff a hospital in Sierra Leone.
The private company contracted to run the Australian government's response, Aspen Medical said on Thursday it was vital to ensure locals were not "disenfranchised" in foreign efforts to help their domestic fight against the disease.

Ebola: Tony Abbott to support Australian volunteers' fight in West Africa

Date November 5, 2014 - 6:49PM

Dan Harrison

Health and Indigenous Affairs Correspondent

Australia will step up its response to the Ebola virus by contracting a private company to operate a hospital in Sierra Leone and deploying technical experts to support the international effort.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced on Wednesday that Australia would contribute a further $24 million to the international fight against Ebola, on top of $18 million it has already committed.
The latest commitment includes $20 million to staff a British-built Ebola treatment facility in Sierra Leone over the next eight months. 

Ebola migration ban best for nation, Peter Dutton says

Jared Owens

HEALTH Minister Peter Dutton has rebuffed World Health Organisation concerns about Australia’s suspension of migration from Ebola-affected nations, claiming West African language barriers and funeral rites make those travellers an unacceptable risk.
Isabelle Nuttall, director of WHO’s alert and response department, said the United Nations agency had asked both countries to justify the tough border measures, which she has described as “detrimental and ineffective”.
Australia on October 27 became the first Western nation to suspend migration from Ebola-hit west African nations, and Canada followed suit four days later.
The WHO’s criticism came as the Abbott government announced it would hire Canberra-based Aspen Medical to provide about 240 staff for a 100-bed medical facility being built by the British government in Sierra Leone.

Aust health firm to manage Ebola unit

ASPEN Medical is not a household name, but it's familiar to thousands of defence personnel who know what to do when a roadside bomb blows off a leg.
THE privately owned firm, based in Canberra and employing more than 2000 people, has been contracted by the federal government to run a 100-bed Ebola treatment centre in Sierra Leone.
It offers medical services to defence, civilian agencies and private firms, including medical evacuation services to resource companies in Australia and the Middle East.
Aspen also provides battle-casualty-care training for defence personnel deploying to the Middle East and Afghanistan.

Grudging response to plea to send Australian medics to fight Ebola perplexing, embarrassing

Date November 9, 2014 - 12:15AM
The reaction was swift. Within a day of the call going out, more than 100 Australian health workers registered their interest in one of the most gruelling jobs in the world, working in a new British-built, Australian-funded Ebola treatment centre in Sierra Leone. Their rapid and selfless response embodies the very best humanitarian spirit. Contrast that with the grudging approach of the Australian government to the Ebola crisis in West Africa.
From the start, the Abbott government has appeared slow to grasp the urgency of the unfolding disaster and to be content with doing the minimum to fulfil Australia's obligations as a global citizen.

GP Co-Payment.

Co-pay 'windfall' will amount to just 40-cents

6 November, 2014 Paul Smith
The $2 "windfall" the Federal Government promised GPs from its co-payment plan will turn into little more than 40 cents once practices have paid the bureaucratic costs of collecting the cash, the AMA claims.
Under the proposed reform, which is supposed to be in place from next July, Medicare rebates for seeing GPs will be cut by $5, with GPs encouraged to charge a $7 gap.
Federal Health Minister Peter Dutton has sold the policy by claiming the $7 fee will result in a "$2 windfall" for GPs.
But the AMA has commissioned new modelling that suggests the red tape in collecting the payment will leave practices with a fistful of cents rather than dollars.

$2 windfall for GPs is rubbish: AMA

6th Nov 2014
GPs will be forced to stump up between $1.41 and $1.61 per service to administer the government's proposed $7 co-payment, AMA modelling shows.
The cost estimate, released in an AMA report today, quantifies the red-tape burden of the co-payment on GPs by taking into account things like paperwork, back office time, financial institution fees and cash handling costs. 
The report says that when bad debts are added to the mix, their costs would quickly erode the $2 per service that the government said would be retained by practices under its model. 
"It shows the statements by the government about a $2 windfall for general practice is rubbish," said AMA Council of General Practice chair Dr Brian Morton. 

Parliament hears Lismore Hospital struggle with health cuts

Chris Calcino | 8th Nov 2014 7:00 AM
THE Northern Star was quoted in New South Wales Parliament as Labor attacked moves to cut $15 billion in Commonwealth funding to the state's health system over 10 years.
Shadow Health Minister Walt Secord called for the Baird Government to oppose the Federal cuts along with the introduction of a $7 Medicare co-payment for visiting a GP.
NSW Health modelling has shown the $7 GP tax would create a 27% per cent increase in emergency department patients who would otherwise see a general practitioner.

Pharmacy Related Articles.

Pharmacists can perform many of the tasks a doctor normally does, like issuing medical certificates

  • Lisa Herbertson
  • Liverpool Leader
  • November 03, 2014 4:00PM
A new campaign could mean less trips to the local doctor, with pharmacists stepping up to the plate to offer basic medical advise and even medical certificates.
Lillian Chen and her husband Jonathan run Chen’s Pharmacist Advice in Hammondville and Chen’s Pharmacy in Wattle Grove and she said that the benefits of visiting a pharmacy can include less waiting time and no appointments required.
But for those needing a doctor’s certificate it may be of most interest to know that pharmacists can issue certificates (for a fee) for sick leave absence from workplaces for certain conditions.
“It’s called a sickness certificate, and it’s for certain conditions, and can be administered by pharmacists like us,” she said.

Ownership threats galvanise Guild: Quilty

6 November, 2014 Christie Moffat
Despite confirmation of support from both the Coalition and Labor, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia is continuing to fight the recommendations of the Competition Policy Review.
Also known as the Harper Review, the panel released its Draft Report in September, recommending the removal of community pharmacy ownership and location rules.
Writing in Guild newsletter Forefront, executive director David Quilty said that in the coming weeks, the Guild would submit a comprehensive cost benefit analysis to the Review, to demonstrate that the public benefits of the “highly successful and much trusted” pharmacy ownership rules “far outweigh any costs”.
“If there is one issue that galvanises the Pharmacy Guild, it is pharmacy ownership,” Mr Quilty said.

Pharmacists want cash for patient interaction

6 November, 2014 Tessa Hoffman and Paul Smith
Pharmacists say they should be paid fees for dispensing medicine based on the time they spend "interacting" with the patient.
In a poll published in the 2014 UTS Pharmacy Barometer, 89% of pharmacists questioned said they wanted a two-tier fee system to better fund clinical services they are providing.
Under the PBS, taxpayers currently pay pharmacists more than $1 billion a year for dispensing.
Calls for time-based dispensing fees have traditionally been rejected by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, the lobby group for pharmacist owners that negotiates with government over funding for the industry.

Medicare Locals.

Cross-border health will stay focus: Ley

Nov. 3, 2014, midnight
SUSSAN Ley has moved to hose down concerns about changes to the health system.
Under the new national plan, Albury and Wodonga will be in separate primary health networks divided on state lines.
Hume Medicare Local chief executive David Dart has raised concerns about the impact of the changes and said having the towns in different regions would be a barrier to providing services.
Indi MP Cathy McGowan also raised concerns over the changes with Health Minister Peter Dutton in Parliament.
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. The Reps come back on Nov 14 for a British PM speech and the Senate in the following week. Both rise until the new year on Dec 4, 2014.
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:

No comments: