Thursday, August 27, 2015

2016 Budget -Parliament Gone Again and The World Economy Teetering On The Edge Apparently.

August 27 Edition
The big news this week that will have a serious budget impact is that last week and into at least early this week we have had GFC like drops in Global Share Markets. This is not good for the Budget or our super accounts! It may be Mr Hockey has a real problem to
Budget Night was May 12, 2015. We now await economic and  activity data reporting to see how successful it was. Interestingly there are some early indications the small-business stimuli might be working. Certainly JB HiFi and Harvey Norman seem to have been doing well recently.
Parliament came back on 10th August  and has now gone away for a few weeks so calm has returned! They all come back Sept 7 for another 2 weeks followed by another 2 weeks in October if I read the calendar right
Well at least Spring is just around the corner - you can tell as the birds are waking up earlier each day and the daily top temps seem to be slowly rising!
This article gives the background to the last day or so on the market:

Wall Street tumbles 3%

A global market rout intensified Friday, pummelling stocks and commodities, as concerns about China's economy pushed the Dow industrials into correction territory. 
Both the blue-chip index and the S&P 500 posted their biggest one-day percentage drops since November 2011, with the Dow closing 10 per cent below its recent high. US oil prices also briefly dropped below $US40 ($A54.53) a barrel on Friday, a level not seen since the financial crisis. 
Signs of a sharp slowdown in the world's second-largest economy have unnerved investors since Beijing surprised markets last week by devaluing its currency. Shares in the US, Asia and Europe have tumbled, along with commodity prices as investors fretted about waning Chinese demand just as supplies are surging.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 531 points, or 3.1 per cent, to close 16459.75. The S&P 500 dropped about 3.2 per cent to 1970.89. The Nasdaq Composite shed 3.5 per cent to 4706.04.
The last time the S&P 500 and Dow were in correction territory was April 29, 2011, to October 3, 2011, when they fell 19 per cent and 17 per cent, respectively.
The market turmoil has some traders exercising caution. 
If I was Mr Hockey I would be pretty anxious right now!
Here is some other of the recent other news and analysis.

General Budget Issues.

Reserve Bank of Australia's Glenn Stevens prods leaders holding back reform

Date August 20, 2015 - 7:18AM
Glenn Stevens is entering his final 12 months as Australia's central bank governor and he has a message for the political class: You're holding us back.
Frustrated by a lack of political consensus on reform and approaching the limits of what he can achieve with interest rates, Stevens and his deputies are taking to the soapbox to press for a new narrative on economic change.
Greater competition, improved infrastructure and a reform strategy that Australians can understand and support are just some of the changes the Reserve Bank of Australia has called for as it tries to stem a slide in the economy's potential growth. The commentary is a departure for the central bank, which is usually reticent about entering policy debates beyond its remit.
The central bank chief in June lamented a lack of productivity-enhancing infrastructure under construction in Australia and noted that funding wasn't the obstacle. "The impediments are in our decision-making processes and, it seems, in our inability to find political agreement," Stevens said.

Public servants 'make up' red tape, says Finance's Jane Halton

Date August 14, 2015

Noel Towell

Reporter for The Canberra Times

Public servants "make up" official reasons not to do things and it's time it stopped, according to the most powerful woman in the Commonwealth bureaucracy.
Finance Department boss Jane Halton says she is on a mission to rid the Australian Public Service of red tape, both real and imaginary.
Spruiking the Abbott government's public service reform agenda on Friday, Ms Halton said much of the red tape that stifles decision-making in the Commonwealth government is dreamt up by bureaucrats rather than imposed upon them.
She also says that efficiency reviews and red-tape crackdowns, "smaller government" initiatives so far in the Abbott government's tenure had achieved savings of more than $1.6 billion.

Joe Hockey 'assumes' he'll deliver a third budget as poll points to Abbott government wipeout

Date August 17, 2015 - 9:42AM

Latika Bourke

National political reporter

Poll puts government in 'disaster' zone

The latest Fairfax-Ipsos poll reveals a massive swing of more than seven per cent against the government since the last election. Analysis with Mark Kenny.
Treasurer Joe Hockey says he "assumes" he will deliver a third budget.
They are a bit worrying, there's no question about that 
Mr Hockey on Monday attempted to shift the focus from last week's divisive debate over same-sex marriage back to the economy.

Joe Hockey rewrites G20 growth plan but small business measures remain

Thursday, 20 August 2015 1:07
Eloise Keating
Treasurer Joe Hockey has revealed his office is “doing the numbers” to revise the federal government’s G20 growth plan, as many of the policy measures included in the original plan have either been dropped or remain stalled in parliament.
Hockey will next month report on Australia’s progress in implementing its plan at a meeting of G20 finance ministers in Turkey in September.
At the G20 Summit in Brisbane in November last year, Prime Minister Tony Abbott unveiled his government’s plan to contribute to a target to collectively grow the global economy by 2.1% by 2018, as did all other G20 member countries.

Health Budget Issues.

Victorian healthcare system set for overhaul to cut hospital visits and better manage chronic illness

August 17, 2015 12:00AM
VICTORIA’S healthcare system is set to undergo a major ­revamp in an attempt to reduce unnecessary hospital visits and manage chronic illness more ­effectively.
Health Minister Jill Hennessy will announce the new Better Care Victoria today, a program expected to revolutionise the system.
Most of the Government’s plan remains a secret, but the Herald Sun ­understands it will increase health system capacity based on evidence-based research and improved interaction between healthcare units.
According to Ms Hennessy, there were about 60,000 avoidable admissions to Victorian hospitals last financial year, which could balloon to 80,000 in 2025.

Medibank Private seeks bid rights on primary care programs

Sean Parnell

Australia’s largest health fund, Medibank Private, wants insurers to be allowed to bid for the right to run federal government primary care programs.
Amid a costs dispute between Medibank and hospital network Calvary, the former government-owned health fund has urged the federal government to open up its new Primary Health Networks to insurers.
The Australian revealed in April that the model chosen by the Abbott government to replace Labor’s Medicare Locals would see insurers given a role in four of the consortiums granted a regional PHN.

Medicare status quo not an option: Ley: Sussan Ley

Sean Parnell

Health Minister Sussan Ley and the head of her Medicare review taskforce, Bruce Robinson, are warning stakeholders that Australians will ultimately suffer if the Abbott government cannot overhaul primary care.
In a speech to a Consumers Health Forum function in Can­berra today, Ms Ley will promise a consultative approach to the Medicare review, and a separate primary care review, to ensure support for the recommendations to be put to government within months. She will also warn that although not every interest group will be satisfied, “there are real risks to standing still as a nation on these necessary reforms”.
“The Australian government is prepared to make difficult decisions, and will be listening to and working with state and territory governments, health professionals, the community and ­patients as part of the broad process of change to build the best health system we possibly can,” Ms Ley will tell the function.

Fears over reform as government slashes health agencies

Sean Parnell

The Abbott government will cut a swath through what it has called Labor’s health bureau­cracy, abolishing two agencies and gutting another amid talks aimed at making the system more sustainable.
The National Health Performance Authority will be abolished on July 1 next year and its functions transferred to the Australian Commission for Safety and Quality in Health Care and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
At the same time, the Department of Health will take over the work of the Independent Hos­pit­al Pricing Authority, which ushered­ in activity-based funding and the move to efficient pricing, leaving the agency with just a board and chief executive.

How a government freeze on Medicare rebates is hitting your hip pocket

  • August 19, 2015 10:00PM
·    Sue Dunlevy National Health Reporter
  • News Corp Australia Network
MORE than a million patients are paying medical gaps when they use their health insurance after the government froze Medicare rebates for specialists.
The effect of the 2014 budget nasty has emerged in the latest government health insurance statistics, which show the proportion of patients paying a gap has hit a five year high.
More than one in seven patients are now paying medical gaps up from almost one in ten at the same time last year.
The 3.4 per cent rise in the proportion of patients paying gaps in the last 12 months is the highest annual rise in gap fees on record since 2000.

Fewer babies born, IVF costs will rise if the Medicare safety net is changed: experts

·         August 21, 2015 10:00PM
·         Lanai Scarr National Political Reporter
·          News Corp Australia Network
ONE thousand fewer babies will be born every year and there will be increased sets of twins, triplets and more if the government pushes ahead with it’s plans to change the Medicare safety net.
One of Australia’s leading fertility specialists has issued the dire warning and urged the government to rethink its plans for the safety net saying it will result in higher costs for reproductive treatments such as In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF).
Mark Bowman, medical director of Genea fertility and president of the Fertility Society of Australia said if out-of-pocket costs for IVF went up, fewer people would be able to afford the treatment or be placed on extraordinarily long waiting lists to access public or no-cost services. For those that could afford IVF, more patients would push to have more than one embryo inserted to “get their money’s worth”, Associate Professor Bowman said.

Australians are undergoing unnecessary surgery – here’s what we can do about it

fronjacksonwebb | Aug 17, 2015 10:23AM
Peter Breadon and Stephen Duckett from the Grattan Institute write: For decades, clinicians and researchers have been concerned about patients getting treatments, including operations, that don’t work. As well as failing to treat the original health problem, ineffective care exposes patients to complications and side-effects and waste [...] precious health-care resources.
Yet while many clinicians believe there is a problem, the policy response has been limited. It is often hard to isolate treatment choices that are inappropriate. A choice that is wrong in one case may be right in another.
To avoid ineffective treatments, we need a new way to identify and reduce questionable care. A new Grattan Institute report shows how to do it.

State Health System Issues.

Fiona Stanley Hospital staff ‘frustrated’ over Serco woes: AMA

  • AAP
  • August 19, 2015 4:02PM
NURSES and doctors at Perth’s new Fiona Stanley Hospital are banging their heads against walls every day because of ongoing frustration with private contractor Serco, the AMA says.
Ian Jenkins from the Australian Medical Association of Western Australia told reporters outside an inquiry into the hospital’s services on Wednesday that Serco had employed people at short notice, many of whom had little or no medical experience.
Dr Jenkins said the “political decision” to privatise “non-clinical” roles at Fiona Stanley was causing issues because no such jobs existed in a hospital.

AMA delivers devastating critique of Fiona Stanley Hospital in Perth

19 August, 2015
The Australian Medical Association has delivered a devastating critique on the leadership and problems at Perth's Fiona Stanley Hospital, saying quality patient care is only being sustained because of the professionalism of frontline clinical staff.
Ian Jenkins gave evidence to a parliamentary inquiry into the transition and operations of clinical service at Fiona Stanley, speaking as the chair of the AMA's inter-hospital liaison committee.
Dr Jenkins told the committee there were still major problems at the new hospital, opened earlier this year, including a severe shortage of beds as patient numbers continued to exceed projections.
"Population has grown faster than they thought. We're years behind. Fiona Stanley was meant to be this size in 2011," he said.

Health Insurance Issues.

AMA calls for minister to enter Medibank-Calvary row

Sarah-Jane Tasker

Australian Medical Association president Brian Owler has called on federal Health Minister Sussan Ley to enter the heated contract dispute between Medibank Private and Calvary hospitals.
Mr Owler said the government had to act because the fight over what the insurer would and wouldn’t pay for threatened to become an industry-wide issue and impact on public hospitals.
“Unless the government acts, they are going to be known as the government that dismantled health insurance and destroyed the balance between the public and the private system,” Dr Owler said. “This will push more private patients into the public system and we will see more people questioning their private health insurance.”

Medibank accused of using dud list to reduce hospital costs

Date August 17, 2015 - 6:32PM

Sarah Whyte

Health and Indigenous affairs correspondent

Private insurance giant Medibank has been accused of using a dud list to reduce its hospital costs by Australia's health care watchdog.
Following a break down of negotiations between Calvary Health Care and the private insurance company, the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care said that the list used by the insurer that includes 165 "highly preventable adverse events" was not appropriate.
The list of events, including if a patient falls while in hospital, had risen from 20 events and was used in negotiations with private hospitals such as Calvary Health Care. Medibank has also refused to cover if a patient has been readmitted within 28 days of discharge.
Medibank, which has 3.8 million members, was floated by the Abbott government in November for $5.7 billion. It has continually argued that the reduction of hospital costs would reduce the number of mistakes made in hospitals, rather than improve profits.

St Vincent’s warns Medibank on talks

Sarah-Jane Tasker

The head of St Vincent’s Health Australia yesterday backed Medibank’s calls for hospitals to ­improve standards but he also warned that playing hard ball with hospitals would damage the ­insurer in the long run.
Toby Hall weighed into the fight between Medibank and Calvary Hospital, ignited after the insurer refused to re-sign a contract with Calvary because it would not agree to a list of incidents Medibank deemed were mistakes it would no longer pay for.
Mr Hall said there was room to move on both sides of the debate.
“Errors or preventable events are rare, but when they happen, hospitals should pay for them,” he said. “Hospitals need to accept their responsibilities for improving standards.”
  • Aug 19 2015 at 6:40 PM
  • Updated Aug 19 2015 at 8:53 PM

Opposition to Medibank Private's hospital insurance strategy grows

Doctors and other medical professionals are turning up the heat over an increasingly bitter dispute with Medibank Private over hospital insurance cover, and have also sent a warning to the federal government to not make its review of medicare benefits a cost-cutting exercise.
The Australian Medical Association hosted a meeting with 70 representatives of specialist colleges and societies in Canberra on Wednesday to discuss the two issues.
The brawl with Medibank Private concerns a move by the country's largest health insurer to cut 165 events out of its insurance cover for the Calvary Health Care group, which runs hospitals in the ACT, South Australia and Tasmania.

Australian Medical Association calls on federal government to intervene in Medibank dispute

Date August 19, 2015 - 11:20PM

Megan Gorrey

Australian Medical Association president Brian Owler has ramped up calls for the federal government to intervene in Medibank Private's bitter dispute with Calvary hospitals.
Thousands of privately insured ACT patients could be slugged with out-of-pocket costs for hospital care after contract negotiations between Calvary Health Care and health insurer Medibank Private broke down earlier this month.
Medibank Private stepped up its attack on the doctors union on Wednesday through a series of scathing full-page newspaper advertisements to "set the record straight" about "misinformed and misleading statements". 

MBS review will not suggest new items, doctors told

Paul Smith20 August, 2015
The doctor leading the Federal Government's attempt to modernise the MBS says his task force will have no powers to recommend new items.
On Wednesday, Professor Bruce Robinson (pictured), chair of the MBS Review Taskforce, fronted some 70 medical leaders in Canberra to explain the “top issues” it will grapple with over the next two years.
Professor Robinson, who is dean of the University of Sydney medical school, said all 5500 MBS items will be open to review, along with the rules and legislation surrounding their use. 

MBS item review sparks slash-and-burn fears

Paul Smith and Tessa Hoffman18 August, 2015
There are claims that up to 100 separate committees are being created as part of the Federal Government's overhaul of the MBS that doctors fear could descend into a cost-cutting exercise.
It will attempt to strip out MBS items supporting low-value care, reduce funding for those with overpriced rebates and tighten up the clinical circumstances for which some items can be claimed.

Medibank members face new hospital charges of up to $1,000

  • August 21, 2015 6:27AM
Sue Dunlevy National Health Reporter
  •  News Corp Australia Network
MEMBERS of Australia’s largest health fund face new out of pocket expenses of up to $1,000 when they use a private hospital.
The shocking new charges are the result of Medibank’s war with the private hospital sector.
Hospitals are refusing to sign Medibank’s tough new contract that refuses payment for 165 hospital events, won’t fund death in childbirth, falls in hospital or patient suicide.
Calvary Hospitals in Canberra, Wagga Wagga, Tasmania and South Australia are the test cases for the policy.

Sussan Ley tries to douse flames of Medibank Private-Calvary dispute

Sean Parnell

A list of avoidable medical mistakes will be fast-tracked by the federal government in an ­attempt to resolve a bitter dispute between Medibank Private and the Calvary hospital group that threatens to engulf the health sector.
With the breakdown of contract negotiations, Health Minister Sussan Ley last night warned of a “game of thrones” situation in which major stakeholders waged war at the expense of ­patients.
Medibank, the nation’s largest insurer, which yesterday posted an increased profit since privatisation, will formally end its contract with the Calvary group of hosp­itals in southern states on August 31. It follows the failure of negotiations and mediations, ostensibly over Calvary’s payment demands and refusal to forgo payment for a list of preventable errors and poor results put forward by Medibank.

Govt warns Medibank, Calvary over dispute

  • August 22, 2015 10:44AM
  • AAP
HEALTH Minister Sussan Ley has finally weighed in on the dispute between Medibank and hospital operator Calvary, warning the parties not to use patients as ransom in a cynical "Game of Thrones".
MS Ley on Saturday hit out at the "grandstanding" by the warring parties, who are at loggerheads after Medibank said it wanted to reduce or remove benefits to hospitals for a list of 165 events it says are "highly preventable".

Pharmacy Issues.

Fighting to survive

17 August, 2015 Chris Brooker 0 comments Read Later
An integrated community-funded pharmacy/GP service controversially shut down by a federal government funding decision has been granted a stay of execution.
A Department of Health response to a question from Greens leader Senator Richard Di Natale reveals Cohealth has been offered a contract extension till 31 December 2015.
The Department claims that the inner Melbourne pharmacy had its funding cut as it “cannot continue to be financially supported without approval under section 90 of the National Health Act”.
“Accordingly the pharmacy is not able to receive dispensary remuneration through the PBS, in the same manner as all community pharmacies throughout Australia.”
It is going to be very interesting to see what happens to the polls and consumer confidence over the next 2-3 months with the present market chaos. I hardly see it improving in the short term

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Public servants "make up" official reasons not to do things and it's time it stopped, according to the most powerful woman in the Commonwealth bureaucracy.

Finance Department boss Jane Halton says she is on a mission to rid the Australian Public Service of red tape, both real and imaginary.

Spruiking the Abbott government's public service reform agenda on Friday, Ms Halton said much of the red tape that stifles decision-making in the Commonwealth government is dreamt up by bureaucrats rather than imposed upon them."

I can't make up my mind which word best describes the Professor: sycophant or hypocrite.

Maybe both do.