Thursday, December 11, 2014

Review Of The Ongoing Post - Budget Controversy 11th December 2014. It Just Got Worse!

Budget Night was on Tuesday 13th May, 2014 and the fuss has still not settled by a long shot. Indeed some commentators are wondering out loud if the Abbot Government will last for a second term.
It is amazing how the discussion on the GP Co-Payment just runs and runs. Lots  more this week with the Government seemingly in disarray and internal division.
Here are some of the more interesting articles I have spotted this 28th week since it was released.
With parliament now finished for the year we can all slip into Christmas mode!

BUT - Now the whole outlook and plans have changed. Lots of comments in blogs over last few days on the new Co-Payment plans! This is just too dynamic for me!
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General.

Wheels are falling off as Abbott careers to year’s end

Peter van Onselen

TONY Abbott is desperate to distinguish himself from Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard. Instead he wants to mould himself in the image of John Howard — a leader he rightly admires, even if I suspect privately Howard has been less than impressed by the job the Prime Minister is doing.
So far, however, Abbott’s government more closely resembles the dysfunction of the Labor line-ups he fought so hard to defeat.
The PM wouldn’t want to talk about removing barnacles too often, as he did in the partyroom this week. After all, his deep unpopularity and predilection for listening to his office’s advice rather than that that of his parliamentary team are the biggest ­barnacles weighing down the Coalition ship of state.
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Boom’s end delivers hit to budget

Adam Creighton

THE torrent of revenue delivered by the resources boom to the federal government has dried up sooner than expected, all but destroying Tony Abbott’s promise to return the federal budget to surplus even if he manages to convince the Senate to pass his controversial savings.
The mid-year budget update, due within weeks, will reveal a deficit blowout of more than $35 billion over the next four years and show that for the first time in more than a decade the state of the economy has become a drag on the budget, according to a report by economic forecaster Deloitte Access Economics.
In analysis that will bolster the government’s case for significant and permanent spending cuts, Deloitte says that sharper-than-expected falls in the price of Australia’s biggest export, iron ore — down more than 35 per cent since May to less than $US70 a tonne — and sluggish wage growth at home have lopped more than $9bn from projected revenues over the next two years alone, rendering hopes of a surplus in 2017-18 “well and truly toast”.
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REMINDER: Some Key Assumptions In Joe Hockey's Budget Are Now Completely Wrong

Paul Colgan Dec 2, 2014, 8:31 AM
When Treasurer Joe Hockey delivers the mid-year update on the federal budget, expected in the coming weeks, we can expect a nasty set of numbers.
Billions of dollars in savings measures are tied up in the unpredictable Senate. Tax revenues are expected to be lower than forecast, attributable to a range of factors, but especially to the fall in commodity prices.
The Abbott Government, which came to office promising an “end to debt and deficit”, needs to do some straight talking to the electorate about the changed economic reality Australia is now confronting.
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Degrees of failure: university reforms fail to pass Senate

Date December 3, 2014 - 8:31AM

Mark Kenny

Chief political correspondent

Another day, another humiliating set-back ending a year of budget policy pain for the Abbott Coalition government. 
Last week it was the GP co-payment. This time it's higher education. Both are crucial to the budget repair task but also to the objective of sectoral viability.
And yet both have been fumbled and blocked one way or another. 
It turns out, this governing thing is quite complicated – especially dealing with a ropey unpredictable crossbench pushing as many conflicting agendas as there are points on a compass.
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GPs and patients under threat when health care is driven by cost

Date December 3, 2014 - 12:15AM

Kean-Seng Lim

Unfair co-payment proposals effectively destroy quality general practice care by stealth, and we are all the poorer for it.
As a general practitioner, my first concern is the health of my patients. It's pretty depressing to see health care reduced to talk of "price signals" or "co-payments" or "barnacles". This is not what health care is about.
I have worked as a GP in Mt Druitt for the past 18 years. Our practice is the oldest continuously running practice in the area and has been serving the people of Mt Druitt for 45 years. For those who may not be familiar with the area, Mt Druitt is one of the less well off parts of outer western Sydney, with high rates of unemployment, single parents, indigenous patients, refugees and migrants. It has some of the state's highest levels of obesity and chronic disease, especially diabetes and lung problems. This can be a challenging but professionally rewarding place to work.
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New Senate report damns Federal Government health cuts, calls for a “wholesale rethink” of policy

Melissa Sweet | Dec 02, 2014 7:11PM | EMAIL | PRINT
A damning indictment of the Federal Government’s cuts across the health sector emerges from the Senate Select Committee on Health’s first interim report (the committee expects to release two of these each year until its final reporting date of 20 June 2016).
The report calls for a “wholesale rethink of government policy”. The committee that wrote the report is, quite evidently, not controlled by Government senators – but it has drawn upon submissions and presentations from across the health sector.
In particular, there is plenty of useful material in the submissions about the $7 copayment, and in the critiques of the Horvath Review of Medicare Locals.
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Slower growth put shadow over budget

Adam Creighton

David Uren

ECONOMIC growth has ­­slump­ed and incomes have fallen for the second quarter in a row, casting a shadow over the outlook for the coming year and prompting Joe Hockey to rule out new spending cuts in his next budget.
The Australian dollar fell below US84c for the first time in more than four years after the Australian Bureau of Statistics yesterday reported the economy had grown by only 0.3 per cent over the three months to September, less than half the pace economists had expected, fanning talk of further interest rate cuts from the Reserve Bank in the new year.
Treasury secretary Martin Parkinson said the national accounts highlighted the danger that living standards might fall over the years ahead. “We’ve already seen living standards, measured by real gross national income per capita, fall in 2012 and 2014,” he told a tax forum in Melbourne.
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Labor, govt end year on budget battle

By Paul Osborne, AAP Senior Political Writer
December 4, 2014, 3:30 pm
"PM Tony Abbott has delivered a horror Christmas message to Australian pensioners," says Labor.
Labor and the government have ended the final question time for the year exchanging blows over the federal budget.
However, the sitting was extended to Friday after a reported last-minute deal with six Senate crossbenchers to legislate temporary protection visas for asylum seekers.
Seven Labor MPs were thrown out of question time as the opposition railed against budget cuts, including pension indexation changes and a rise in the pension age to 70, which the government was poised to bring on for debate on Thursday night.
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Weaker economy to hit budget, Joe Hockey tells Parliament

Date December 4, 2014 - 4:18PM

Peter Martin

Economics Editor, The Age

Treasurer Joe Hockey has confirmed the weaker economy will lead to a writedown in revenues when the budget update is released in the middle of the month.
"Government revenues have been impacted by a larger-than anticipated decline in our terms of trade," he said on Thursday in a ministerial statement to the Parliament before it was due to rise for the summer break.
"This means the government will collect less in tax, which makes it harder to pay for existing government services."
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Weekend Economist: Basis to cut

We have revised our interest rate outlook. We still expect rates to be on the rise in 2016 as the world economy gathers considerable momentum but we now expect the Reserve Bank of Australia to cut rates further in the early months of 2015 in an effort to bolster domestic demand and lower the Australian dollar before evidence around the world economy becomes clearer around the middle of the year.
We expect a 25 basis rate cut at the February board meeting and another one to follow in March.
Our initial response to the September quarter national accounts was that the Reserve Bank would accept that the dismal growth profile was due to a lumpy fall in government spending; a temporary pause in the dwelling investment upswing; a sharper than expected drop in mining investment; and the fall in the terms of trade, which was already known to the policy makers.
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Medicare Co-Payments.

Treasurer Joe Hockey won’t admit the GP tax is dead as he wants to balance budget, senior Liberals claim

  • Samantha Maiden
  • The Sunday Telegraph
  • November 29, 2014 6:56PM
JOE Hockey is insisting that the $7 GP fee is not dead simply to ensure he can keep the measure on his budget bottom line according to senior Liberals.
After days of chaotic disarray over the policy, Mr Abbott’s supporters have again insisted that the policy “is dead’’ in the Senate but they do not want to formally scrap the measure.
The reason according is that the Treasurer wants to keep the $1 billion raised through the GP tax on the budget books ahead of the Mid Year Economic Fiscal Outlook.
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Government isn’t pursuing Medicare co-payment says David Leyonhjelm

Gina Rushton

LIBERAL Democratic Party senator David Leyonhjelm has said he received just “two phone calls” about the proposed Medicare co-payment as federal politicians failed to gain state-based support for the policy.
“(The Abbott government) haven’t really pursued the $7 co-payment with me or the other cross benchers. It is almost as if there was a little bit of talk about it and then nothing,” Mr Leyonhjelm told Sky News.
“I’ve probably had about two phone calls about it and that’s it,” he said.
The crossbench senator said ‘good people’ were being held back by interference of Mr Abbott’s office in the Liberal Party at a state level.
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Coalition implodes on $7 Medicare payment

Australian budget 17 comments
The chaos enveloping the Government’s budget has turned internecine, from The Australian:
FRUSTRATED  backbench MPs have blocked an attempt to fast-track the Abbott government’s $20 billion medical research ­future fund in a show of strength amid growing despair at the way their leaders are communicating their economic strategy.
The Coalition’s economics committee refused to approve a draft bill to set up the controversial fund in a blunt signal to ministers that it would not “rubber-stamp” fresh ideas after seeing the government struggle to argue for its existing reforms.
…Preparing the ground for a grim budget update in the next fortnight, Mr Hockey gave Coalition MPs a 45-minute PowerPoint briefing in which he warned of new “headwinds” facing the economy
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Co-payment dead in any form: Palmer

  • December 03, 2014 9:59AM
  • AAP
MARK Clive Palmer's words, the government's $7 GP co-payment is dead, finished, finito, buried.
"NO adjustments. No negotiations," the Palmer United Party leader said.
Tony Abbott remains committed to introducing the doctor's charge, despite opposition in the Senate.
The prime minister has said the final design of the charge would depend on negotiations with the crossbench, raising speculation it may tweak the Medicare payment.
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Government suffers two big failures as Medicare co-payment and university funding changes rejected

  • December 02, 2014 5:38PM
  • Malcolm Farr
TONY Abbott’s plan to end the year with a celebration of his government’s achievements is being dashed by two crushing failures — to pass changes to both Medicare and university funding.
Today the Prime Minister mobilised his back bench to spend Christmas talking up the government’s first 15 months to voters. But that could be difficult.
The government cannot get the backing of cross bench senators — some of whom are angry at Liberal “harassment” — to implement a Medicare co-payment and changes to university funding which were proposed in the May Budget, 204 days ago.
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AMA continues campaign against $7 co-payment

By admin Finance Dec 03, 2014
The Australian Medical Association has continued its campaign against the proposed $7 co-payment scheme. In interviews last week on national radio, Associate Professor and AMA President Brian Owler outlined that the medical sector already has co-payment systems – but only for those who can afford them.
“The AMA doesn’t oppose co-payments, we already have them in our health system, but only for those who can afford to pay them. We were asked to put up an alternative policy, which we did, and unfortunately the government rejected that,” Owler said to ABC News.
Claims by the Opposition’s Catherine King, that the government could reduce payments to GPs via the Medicare Benefits Schedule, was met with criticism.
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The $20 billion medical research fund slashed by 40 per cent as the Senate blocks unpopular $7 GP fee.

  • December 04, 2014 12:01AM
  • Sue Dunlevy
  • National Health Reporter
The $20 billion research fund to find cures for cancer, dementia and heart disease will be slashed by 40 per cent because the government has failed to deliver its $7 GP fee.
And medical research groups have called on the government to find a more “socially acceptable” way of funding the research.
It comes as an attempt to win consideration for last minute legislation to set up the fund was controversially rebuffed by the government’s own back bench economics this week.
Backbenchers, upset at lack of consultation from cabinet ministers, wanted more time to consider the bill.
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Peter Dutton willing to compromise on PBS co-payment

Sid Maher

Rosie Lewis

THE budget faces the loss of another $20 million, a month after the government delayed planned increases in the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, as it seeks crossbench Senate support.
Health Minister Peter Dutton said the government was willing to “compromise” on the $5 increase in co-payments for PBS drugs to win over crossbenchers. “The government is not ruling in or out other options; we are determined to make sure that our health system sustains into the future,” he said. “We’re happy to negotiate and if there’s a sensible position that can be arrived at, we’re happy to compromise.’’
The Abbott government announced in the budget that it planned to increase co-payments for PBS drugs by $5 to $42.70 for general patients and by 80c to $6.90 for concessional patients.
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Victorian Election.

Victorian election: Former premier Jeff Kennett blames Abbott ‘shambles’ after wipeout

  • SAMANTHA MAIDEN NATIONAL POLITICAL EDITOR
  • The Sunday Telegraph
  • November 29, 2014 8:39PM
FORMER Victorian premier Jeff Kennett unloaded on the Abbott Government last night as a “shambles’’, admitting it was major factor in the defeat of the Napthine government.
As senior Liberals traded blows over Canberra’s policy chaos over the GP tax, Mr Kennett said the Abbott Government could not escape blame over the election outcome.
Victorians dumped a first-term state government for the first time in 60 years, prompting Denis Napthine to announce his retirement from the leadership.
Premier-elect Daniel Andrews said Victorians were tired of negative politics and vowed to fight for firefighters, nurses, midwives and teachers.
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Toxic Abbott threw Napthine under a bus

7:31am, Nov 30, 2014
State Liberals believe they received absolutely no help from the Abbott coalition government.
For some unknown reason the Victorian Electoral Commission won’t start counting the 1.1 million pre-poll votes until Monday morning, but unless an overwhelming majority of those miraculously go to the Liberals and Nationals they cannot retain government.
Labor is back in power. Premier Denis Napthine graciously conceded as much late Saturday night.
Labor is supremely confident the almost-three per cent swing it picked up on the night will be reflected in the pre-polls.
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Victoria's vote 'a clear message to Tony Abbott'

Date November 30, 2014 - 2:15PM

Latika Bourke

The federal government says the Prime Minister's unpopularity had barely any role in the Coalition's state election loss in Victoria, but the Liberal candidate for the seat of Cranbourne on Saturday said voters told him they would vote for Labor because they disliked the Abbott government's budget.
Denis Napthine has led the Victorian Liberals to defeat and made history by becoming the state's first one-term government in 60 years, with Daniel Andrews elected Premier on Saturday evening.
Mr Abbott has paid tribute to Mr Napthine as a "man of integrity and decency" and in a statement said he would "work with the incoming government".
"I congratulate Dan Andrews on his victory ... whilst a significant proportion of the vote remains to be counted, it is clear that Victorians have voted for a change of government," he said.

Medicare Locals.

Medicare Local closures could cost $112m

4 December, 2014 Paul Smith
 Winding up Medicare Locals is going to cost taxpayers up to $112 million when the funding plug is pulled next year.
The Federal Government is replacing the 61 organisations with 30 Primary Health Networks following ministerial claims that Medicare Locals were failing and out of touch with grassroots GPs.
But the Senate's select committee on health has said millions of dollars will be spent in the restructure, with the risk that some front-line health services will disappear.
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Pharmacy Related Articles.

Prescription medicine $5 price hike blocked by the Senate

  • Sue Dunlevy Health Reporter
  • News Corp Australia
  • December 01, 2014 12:00AM
Australians look likely to win a reprieve from the $5 hike in the charge for subsidised prescription medicines due to take effect in January.
It can’t get its $7 GP fee through the parliament and now the government is battling to get Senate approval for its medicines price hike.
The problem could blow another $1.3 billion hole in the troubled federal budget.
The government has just four parliamentary sitting days to win Senate approval for the measure if it wants it to take effect on January 1 as planned.
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Non-approved pharmacy loophole closes

1 December, 2014 Chris Brooker
Amendments to the PBS come into effect today that close the alleged loophole through which reimbursement could be claimed from non-approved pharmacies.
Following consultation with industry stakeholders on a draft amendment earlier in 2014, an additional condition has been added to the National Health (Pharmaceutical Benefits) (Conditions of approval for approved pharmacists) Determination 2007.
The new condition clearly states that an approved pharmacist must not make a claim for payment for the supply of a pharmaceutical benefit unless the pharmaceutical benefit was supplied at or from the pharmacist’s approved premises.
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Australian Senate Freezes $5 Hike on Prescription Medicine

By Katrina · Dec 2nd, 2014 ·
The Australian federal government’s proposed $5 price hike on prescription medicine is in limbo as the Senate did not include the measure in this week’s order of business. Should the Senate go on session break without approving the bill, the price hike will not take effect by January 1 as projected by the government.
The proposed measure intends to push the price of subsidised medicine from $36.90 to $42.70 while pensioners and concession card holders will have to shoulder an additional 80 cents per script. The price hike on subsidised medicine is considered as a key to help the government save around $1.3 billion in a span of four years. Health Minister Peter Dutton stated that the price hike should be implemented as rising health costs are becoming unsustainable for the government. Prime Minister Tony Abbott is expected to negotiate with some key crossbenchers next week to have the measure approved.
However, Australian Medical Association President Brian Owler claimed that the Federal Budget for health care is sinking instead of expanding. Owler underscored that health care had an 18 per cent share under the 2006-2007 budget. The Federal Budget for health care is now down to 16 per cent.
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Coalition quietly shelves $1.3b drugs co-payment

Joanna Heath
An increase in patient costs for prescription drugs under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme will not proceed by its intended start date of January 1, jeopardising one of the government’s biggest health savings announced in the May budget.
Legislation to increase co-payments for PBS drugs by $5 for general patients and 80¢ for concessional patients and to make changes to safety nets from January 1, 2015 were quietly taken off the order of business for the Senate on Thursday, the last sitting day available to pass the bill before it was due to come into effect.
The legislation has been stuck in the Senate since July, with insufficient crossbench support.
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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 13-14 Budget at the end of the day.
As pointed out on Insiders a few weeks ago the next chance to have progress  in February, 2015 - and after MYEFO due in a week or so and then on to the next Budget in May!
One wonders for how much longer this will go on?
Enjoy.
David.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Winding up Medicare Locals is going to cost taxpayers up to $112 million when the funding plug is pulled next year.

Then the Primary Health Networks will replace the Medicare Locals and a very large percentage of the people who had their jobs taken away with the closure of the Medicare Locals will re-emerge as employees of the new PHNs substantially richer for the experience by $50,000 to $100,000. And the wheels keep spinning.

Anonymous said...

Not to mention the $300M that was used to set ML's up in the first place. But yes, there is little doubt this will eventuate with the same faces from Divisions and MLs running the show.

Anonymous said...

Spot the connection...

http://www.smh.com.au/national/health/another-painful-christmas-the-human-face-of-the-hospital-waiting-list-in-western-sydney-20141211-1255n1.html

and

http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/voice/nsw-schools-told-to-show-how-they-are-lifting-standards-20141211-124w7z.html

"No cuts to health, no cuts to Gonski"