Thursday, July 31, 2014

Review Of The Ongoing Post - Budget Controversy 31st July 2014. It Is Sure Going On and 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.
Here are some of the more interesting articles I have spotted this ninth  week since it was released.
Parliament has now got up for the Winter Recess we can take a breath and see where we are.
The AMA has been out recently suggesting ideas and worrying about just what the Government’s health agenda actually is. Prof Owler does not seem happy with the apparent directions.
We sure do live in interesting times!
The first article is a huge relief to all of us - no emergency and all is well according to our Treasurer.


Australian economy is not in trouble, Joe Hockey tells NZ

Date:  July 26, 2014 - 2:37PM
Joe Hockey has told New Zealand that there is no crisis in the Australian economy, nor is it in trouble.
The treasurer also made no mention of the "budget emergency" he and his government referred to when justifying their unpopular budget to Australians.
Instead, Mr Hockey reassured Kiwis that their second biggest trading partner is benefiting from 23 years of consecutive economic growth.
"The Australian economy is not in trouble," he told New Zealand political current affairs show The Nation on Saturday.
Mr Hockey also denied drastic reforms to Australian healthcare, education and taxes were about ideological change.

Push for G20 cuts to health, pensions

David Crowe

Political Correspondent
TREASURY has called for structural savings in areas such as health and education with a warning that “complacency can be disastrous”, amid a deepening political row over the government’s attempts to sell an ­unpopular budget.
As Joe Hockey hits back at critics of his budget sales job, the federal government’s top economic official has warned of the growing weight of spending on pensions as the population ages in Australia and other countries.
The speech by Treasury secre­tary Martin Parkinson sharpens debate on the nation’s finances as the government struggles to explain controversial changes.
The Treasurer sought yesterday to step up the case for spending cuts, as he helped launch a new biography that has fuelled frustrations within the Coalition over the budget and leadership.

Joe Hockey opens the book on a misfiring government

Death and tragedy reset the national political conversation. Whether, in recent times, it was the brief lull in hostilities after the death of Julia Gillard’s father or the national shock after the downing of MH17, all that has gone before seems trivial.
Politicians stop attacking each other in three-word slogans and instead speak as the leaders they should be, however briefly.
There is a restraint in what issues journalists ask questions about. A sudden observance of appropriateness rules.
Context is everything in politics and things that might have seemed sort of OK one week are just so wrong in another week. So whatever else is said about MH17, it stopped the noise generated by the Senate and Clive Palmer in its tracks.

AMA warns against push by private health insurers into 'US-style care'

Brian Owler, Australian Medical Association president, fears medical profession at risk of being undermined
Daniel Hurst, Guardian Australia political correspondent
The Australian Medical Association has issued a pre-emptive warning to the government against a major expansion of the role of private health insurers, arguing the public did not want a US-style “managed care” system in primary care and hospitals.
The AMA president, Brian Owler, said the government would need to change the law if it wanted to allow private health insurers to insure for the “gap” payment for GP consultations, but warned that this would lead to “all sorts of problems”, including straining the traditional doctor-patient relationship.
Owler told the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday that he feared private health insurers were leading a concerted effort “to undermine and control the medical profession” and that the government was “looking towards” a system in which insurers dictated the care that patients received and which medical professionals they visited.

Stage set for US-style health system: AMA

The Australian government is setting the stage for a United States-style health system with a lower level of care for the uninsured, according to new ­Australian Medical Association president Brian Owler.
Dr Owler, a paediatric neurosurgeon, used his first appearance at the National Press Club in Canberra to criticise the government for “threatening the very foundations of the health system” because of its budget.
He said the $7 GP co-payment, cuts to hospital funding agreements and changes to general practice training programs as the worst aspects.

We'll resist GP push from insurers: AMA

Date July 23, 2014 - 12:38PM
Doctors fear private health insurers are making a concerted effort to undermine their profession.
They warn a push by insurers to cover primary care is a step towards a US-style health system.
The insurers are lobbying the federal government to allow them to enter the lucrative primary care market - services which are now covered by Medicare.
Health Minister Peter Dutton has said he is prepared to consider such a change because insurers could deliver savings to the government.

Medibank pen-pushers overruling doctors – AMA

THE nation’s largest health fund is refusing to fund plastic surgery for burns and skin cancer victims under a new policy which doctors claim amounts to the introduction of United States-style managed care.
The government-owned health fund Medibank has also refused to pay for women to have both breast implants removed after one of them burst under the controversial new policy, Sydney media report.
The Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons says Medibank’s new policy means a health fund clerk who may have no medical qualifications is overruling a doctor without ever seeing the patient.

GPs still being told to stop claiming nurses’ time

21st Jul 2014
GPs have been alarmed in the past week to find confusion persists within the government over Medicare’s policy on the role of nurses in health assessments.
Doctors calling Medicare’s item interpretation hotline have had the bad news spelled out in the clearest possible terms, complete with examples, that they could not bill for practice nurses’ time spent on health assessments.  
The AMA received assurances from the health department nearly two weeks ago that a clear statement would be drawn up “within days” that would endorse practice nurses’ contributions to timed health assessments under Medicare items 701–707.

No end in sight for Wagga's prostate pain

By Alex McConachie

July 20, 2014, 5:45 p.m.
AFTER 12 months of lobbying, Wagga remains no closer to securing a prostate care nurse than when the campaign first began.
And in a blow for advocates, who have been tirelessly campaigning for the city to secure one of the federally funded nurses, Wagga may never receive one with the prostate care nurse program's future up in the air.
In a meeting with Health Minister Peter Dutton on Tuesday, member for Riverina Michael McCormack was told the minister was "uncertain" if there would be another round of nurses deployed to hospitals following this year's allocations.

GP Co-Payments.

Health spending is not out of control: Owler

23rd Jul 2014
AMA president Associate Professor Brian Owler has rejected a fundamental premise of the government's budget health reforms, saying health spending is not out of control.
Speaking today at the National Press Club in Canberra, Professor Owler also called for national discussion on what Australians want from their health system. 
"Is it such a bad thing that Australia spends more of its wealth on healthcare? As a nation becomes prosperous, its total expenditure on healthcare should increase just as it should on education," he said, before echoing the remarks of his predecessor Dr Steve Hambleton in describing the government as "bean counters".

Abbott asks AMA for alternative co-pay plan

23 July, 2014 Paul Smith
A revamp of the GP co-payment plan is now on the cards after Prime Minister Tony Abbott asked the AMA to draw up an alternative.
AMA president Associate Professor Brian Owler (pictured) has stressed that his organisation supported co-payments but not the details of the scheme announced in this year's budget, saying it risked putting some general practices out of business.
"The proposal threatens the viability of some medical practices — not just in general practice, but in radiology and pathology — particularly those in disadvantaged areas in which bulk-billing rates are high, such as those in Western Sydney," Professor Owler told the National Press Club on Wednesday.
The AMA's alternative model, requested by Mr Abbott two weeks ago, is under wraps.
Professor Owler claimed it would "provide protections for vulnerable patients and it will value general practice".

GP co-pay: can the Govt ignore Clive Palmer?

22 July, 2014 Paul Smith
Australian parliamentary democracy, if judged by the ugly verbal spats witnessed during the average Question Time, is a difficult concept to love when rendered in living, political flesh.
But when your executive pushes on with flawed, half-baked, semi-rational policies that look like they were thought up by someone who thinks Yes Minister is a documentary on good government, then even cynics can see its virtues.
Unless, as Treasurer Joe Hockey has been suggesting recently, that same executive can finds ways to act without the meddling of parliamentary democracy.

Most will ask for $7 waiver

25th Jul 2014
SIX in 10 Australians will ask GPs to waive the $7 co-payment if the government’s plan becomes law, shifting the cost of a $5 MBS rebate reduction back onto doctors, according to research commissioned by the RACGP.
The figure climbed to almost eight in 10 for full-time students and the unemployed.
And, more than three-quarters of respondents said people would visit their GP less if the co-payment became a reality.
RACGP president Dr Liz Marles said the survey made clear that the co-payment would increase, rather than decrease, pressure on the health system.

Health insurers push into GP clinics

A co-ordinated move into GP clinics would provide lucrative new growth opportunities for the private health insurance industry.
Joanna Heath
The private health insurance industry is planning a large-scale push into GP clinics, which it says will result in better health for its members and lower costs in the hospital system.
But it faces resistance from the peak doctors’ lobby, which says the move could lead to commercial interests dictating health outcomes for patients.
A controversial Queensland trial run by Medibank Private that guarantees its customers fast GP appointments at no cost will be expanded to include the creation of recommended care plans for customers deemed at risk of chronic illness.

Medicare Locals.

AMA explains vision for Medicare Locals’ replacement

24 July, 2014 Amanda Davey
The AMA says it intends to work closely with the government to make Primary Health Networks (PHNs) more effective than the “under-achieving” Medicare locals they are replacing.
Its president, Associate Professor Brian Owler (pictured) says he wants PHNs to be better targeted and driven by family doctors at the local level.
“While some Medicare locals have clearly done a good job in improving access to care, the overall Medicare local experiment has clearly failed – largely due to deliberate policy decisions to marginalise the involvement of GPs,” he says.
“We can’t afford to get it wrong a second time.”

Pharmacy, PBS and Medicine Issues.

Health Minister Peter Dutton removes comments from parents of sick kids from his Facebook site

  • July 26, 2014 12:00AM

Cystic fibrosis sufferer's dream professional debut

HEALTH Minister Peter Dutton has enraged parents of sick children by removing their posts from his Facebook account and accusing them of working for a drug company.
The parents are pleading for a subsidy for a breakthrough $300,000 per person per year medication that treats the deadly cystic fibrosis disease whose sufferers have a life expectancy of just 38 years.
On Saturday, July 12 those managing the minister’s Facebook account deleted all posts relating to the medicine Kalydeco after one parent used a swear word and said the subsidy delay was “killing” sufferers.
For more than a week afterwards parents who wanted to post on the website using the word Kalydeco claim subsequent posts were blocked from public view.
It seems the fuss is not yet settled - to say the least. Will be fascinating to see how all this plays out, with the AMA suggesting alternatives, in secret, to Mr Abbott. I wonder why not to Mr Dutton
The crucial New Senate has now really shown itself to be rather an extreme rabble and just where we will all wind up is rather in the lap of the gods!
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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