Thursday, October 23, 2014

Review Of The Ongoing Post - Budget Controversy 23rd October 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 21st week since it was released.
Clearly Ebola and the Government Response and the new Primary Health Networks got a lot of coverage in the press this week.
The House of Reps returned a few days ago and the Senate comes back 27th October so we will see how we go!


Bill Shorten says Treasurer Joe Hockey 'desperate'

Date October 11, 2014 - 10:13PM
Treasurer Joe Hockey is a desperate man, running out of time to justify his budget - but that doesn't explain why he's trying to tie Australia's intervention in Iraq to its passing, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says.
Mr Hockey made headlines this week when, while speaking about the impact of the Iraq deployment on the budget, he said the government would "spend what we need to spend to defend our nation".
But he said the added expense was "another good reason" for Labor to back the government's controversial budget measures.

Surplus continues to elude successive governments

Date October 11, 2014 - 10:00PM

Paul Malone

On the last sitting day of the House of Representatives, the former Treasurer Wayne Swan was ejected from the chamber.
Responding to a provocative jibe by the Treasurer, Joe Hockey, that in all the 400 pages of Swan's book on his time as treasurer he had not mentioned the word "surplus" once, Swan cut in.
"Madam Speaker," he said, "I rise on a point of order. That is a lie." 
Knowing full well the consequences of his actions, Swan refused to withdraw and was ordered out of the House by Speaker Bronwyn Bishop.

Budget pain and senate strife

If the federal government manages to pass most of its new initiatives it will prove devastating for lower-income earners – particularly those with children. According to new research, single parents with children could see their household income cut by over 10 per cent by 2017-18.
The National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) has released new modelling on the economic and distributional effects of the 2014-15 federal budget. They find that the impact of the budget “falls most heavily on low and middle income families with children.” The impact is significant but manageable in 2014-15 but blows out considerably by the 2017-18 financial year.
By comparison, higher income families with and without children are relatively unaffected by the budget in the short and long-term. In fact for this cohort, the federal budget largely leaves them better off by 2017-18 than under the previous Labor budget.

Editorial - Monday, October 13: Budget proves a stinker

David Moase | 13th Oct 2014 3:00 AM
IT IS five months since Joe Hockey put forward the Federal Coalition Government's first Budget, but the bulk of the key cost-saving measures don't seem any closer to passing through parliament.
Mr Hockey was on television yesterday baiting the Opposition to pass the changes and threatening more welfare cuts to replace any savings that aren't ticked off in the Senate.
But after five months it is clear the Treasurer still doesn't get why his Budget has proven so unpopular and why he can't raise support from the crossbenches.
The Budget has failed the sniff test.

Whichever way you cut it, the federal budget hurts the poorest hardest

The study by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling found that in this financial year, 99.8% of households are worse off after the budget
A study released last week confirms that the May budget will hit the poorest households hardest and is particularly harsh towards families. Even with the benefit of a removed carbon price, by 2017-18 the people worst affected by the government’s policies will be the poorest.
The study by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (Natsem) provides a dollar impact of the budget on different households. In the past, a version of this information was provided in the budget papers, however this year such a table was left out.
Its omission could be due to the budget hitting all households and low-income households also being the worst hit.

Hockey warns of massive industrial change

Shane Wright Economics Editor The West Australian October 14, 2014, 7:46 am
Joe Hockey has signalled the Government will press ahead with plans to cut taxes while warning the country faces massive industrial change over coming years.
In a speech in London, the Treasurer also defended some of his Budget measures as vital to restoring the nation's finances and putting it in position to weather future economic challenges.
It was at a similar speech two years ago that Mr Hockey claimed a coalition government would end the "age of entitlement".

Tale of two cities

By Katherine Fenech

Oct. 14, 2014, 1:38 p.m.
WHEN releasing his federal budget Treasurer Joe Hockey warned that "heavy lifting" would be needed to bring the economy back to surplus.
But it seems Campbelltown is doing a lot more of that lifting than Joe Hockey's north shore seat.
The University of Canberra's National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) released its report on the budget on Friday, revealing local households will be much worse off than their north shore and eastern suburbs counterparts by 2017-18.
Families in the seat of Werriwa, held by Labor's Laurie Ferguson, would lose $859.80 of their income, while those in Liberal MP Russell Matheson's electorate of Macarthur would be $494.30 worse off.

Medical Research.

Melbourne’s genius medical researchers spend most of their time having to find funding

  • Brigid O’Connell
  • Herald Sun
  • October 10, 2014 9:10PM
INSIDE a nondescript annex at the end of a St Vincent’s Hospital rabbit warren, balls of cartilage are being grown.
Barely 700m down the road, the Bionics Institute is preparing to test a brain implant device on a first patient, with the aim of controlling Parkinson’s disease tremors.
Across the city in Parkville, at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, Dr Kath Jackman has been lured back to Australia from the US to work on cracking the brain’s “security system”, the blood-brain barrier.
Over the road, a Royal Melbourne Hospital neurology trainee and a University of Melbourne biomedical engineer have the backing of the US military to develop a “bionic spinal cord” that would allow quadriplegics and stroke patients to control robotic limbs by thought.


Ebola assault sees Shorten end unity on foreign affairs

Stefanie Balogh

BILL Shorten has opened the deepest political divide in Aus­tralia’s approach to an inter­national crisis in more than a decade, ­accusing the Abbott government of sleepwalking through the Ebola outbreak.
Labor’s break from bipartisanship on the global contagion marks the most significant diplomatic fault line on foreign affairs between the major parties since former opposition leader Simon Crean refused to back John Howard on the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
The Opposition Leader yesterday swung in behind his deputy to echo Tanya Plibersek’s demands for the government to do more, including dispatching health workers to West Africa to help contain the disease before it reaches Australia and becomes “an unfolding international calamity’’.
“Doing nothing is not a recipe for a bipartisan approach,’’ Mr Shorten said. “Australia cannot sleepwalk its way through this Ebola crisis and leave dealing with it, I believe, to everyone else. That is a lack of leadership.

Queensland ramps up measures to deal with Ebola

  • Daryl Passmore
  • The Courier-Mail
  • October 17, 2014 2:04PM
QUEENSLAND will next week take delivery of three ISO-POD units to safely transport Ebola patients as health chiefs nationwide ramp up preparations to deal with any potential outbreak.
The specialist equipment will be based in Brisbane and deployed as and when necessary to fly patients to hospitals with the necessary facilities to treat cases in high-level isolation.
One ISO-POD was borrowed from the Royal Flying Doctor service in Western Australia last week following the Ebola scare involving Cairns nurse Sue-Ellen Kovack who developed a fever after recently returning from a volunteer stint in Sierra Leone.

'We made mistakes,' Dallas health boss says of Ebola crisis

Date October 17, 2014

Nick Allen

Dallas: The hospital at the centre of the United States' Ebola outbreak admitted it made mistakes and has apologised, as a whistleblowing nurse described scenes of "chaos" there.
Thomas Duncan, 42, the first person to be diagnosed with the disease in the US, died at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital on October 8 and two nurses who treated him - Nina Pham and Amber Vinson - contracted the virus.
Speaking at a congressional hearing in Washington, Daniel Varga, the chief clinical officer of Texas state health resources, the medical group that oversees Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, said: "We did not correctly diagnose his symptoms as those of Ebola. We are deeply sorry. Despite our best intentions, and a highly skilled medical team, we made mistakes."

GP Co-Payment.

Abbott's tax 'will see cancer patients pay huge fees'

Joel Gould | 14th Oct 2014 4:00 AM Updated: 6:04 AM
UPFRONT fees for cancer patients will be a hidden cost of the Abbott Government's GP co-payment package, according to an independent body.
The Australian Diagnostic Imaging Association (ADIA) says patients will be forced to pay $90 upfront for every X-ray, $380 for every CAT scan, up to $160 for every mammogram and $190 for every ultrasound.
Blair MP Shayne Neumann said the costs, "a hidden trap in the Abbott Government's GP Tax package, will force many cancer patients in Ipswich to pay extraordinary fees upfront, even those on healthcare and pensioner concession cards".
But the claims have been refuted by the office of Minister for Health Peter Dutton. A spokesman for Mr Dutton said individual diagnostic providers would decide what they charge under the government's plan, as they do now.

Gosford Council to write to federal government opposing GP co-payment

  • Geraldine Cardozo
  • Central Coast Gosford Express Advocate
  • October 16, 2014 12:00AM
The  Federal Government’s proposed $7 GP co-payment has been given the thumbs down by Gosford Council.
The council voted on Tuesday night to oppose the introduction of the proposed Medicare levy.
Greens councillor Hillary Morris gave an impassioned speech urging fellow councillors to support her motion to write to Federal Health Minister Peter Dutton, ­Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, Greens Leader Christine Milne and Palmer United Party Leader Clive Palmer to express opposition to the levy.

Pharmacy Related Articles.

Radical proposals to change 6CPA remuneration

13 October, 2014 Chris Brooker
Radical new sources of pharmacy revenue could be funded from the Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement if a comprehensive new PSA blueprint is adopted.
The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) has released a discussion paper Better health outcomes through improved primary care: Optimising pharmacy’s contribution, in which it both calls for a greater role in the 6CPA process, and advocates a realignment of the agreement towards a much greater focus on professional services.
Described by PSA sources as “evolution not revolution”, the document envisages the current Part B of the Community Pharmacy Agreement – covering professional services – “as an integrated suite of pharmacy services linked with population health objectives and primary care services”.

Victorian inquiry recommends expanded pharmacist role

14 October, 2014 Christie Moffat
A parliamentary inquiry has recommended an expanded role for Victorian pharmacists in primary care, including the establishment of a flu immunisation trial and a minor ailments scheme in rural Victoria.
The Legal and Social Issues Legislation Committee released a report outlining opportunities for community pharmacists to play a greater role in taking pressure off the Victorian health system.

AMA shirtfronts Vic pharmacy plans

15 October, 2014 Amanda Davey
The AMA has strongly criticised parliamentary recommendations for Victoria’s pharmacists to conduct a flu immunisation trial and treat minor ailments in rural areas.
“Doctors must remain at the centre of care, not as a second opinion,” says AMA Victoria president Dr Tony Bartone.
"Any decision which seeks to provide a substitute for a qualified doctor is a wrong decision."
Victoria’s legal and social issues committee believe pharmacists can take pressure off the state health system, and the trial could be in place before the start of the next flu season.

AMA criticism won’t stop collaboration, pharmacists say

16 October, 2014 Chris Brooker
Pharmacists have responded strongly to the latest AMA criticisms of plans to expand the clinical service role of the profession.
As reported yesterday, AMA chair of general practice, Dr Brian Morton (pictured), was vehement in his criticism of pharmacy taking on additional roles, such as vaccination, as had been proposed by a Victorian parliamentary committee.
“This is not in their scope of practice, and a half day of [vaccination] training is simply inadequate,” he said. “Where will they vaccinate and treat these patients - between the toilet paper and the toothpaste?”
However, Pharmacy News readers have responded constructively to the AMA comments.

Medicare Locals.

ACT Medicare Local to bid to keep its role in the new world of Health Networks

ACT Medicare Local (ACTML) has welcomed the announcement by the Commonwealth Government that one Primary Health Network (PHN) will be set up in the ACT.
ACTML Chair Dr Rashmi Sharma said it’s reassuring to consumers and health professionals that the boundary for the ACT PHN remains the same.
“We welcome the Commonwealth Government’s commitment to the importance of a strong primary health care system. As we all know, a locally coordinated and governed system of primary health care plays a critical role in containing the rapid growth of hospital and other high cost care in the face of the challenges such as avoidable hospital admissions and ED care, chronic and complex disease, an ageing population and mental health issues,” said Dr Sharma.

Medicare Locals to become 30 Primary Health Networks

16 October, 2014 Tessa Hoffman
Thirty new Primary Health Networks will replace the 61 soon-to-be-defunded Medicare Locals, the Federal Government has revealed.
On Wednesday, the government finally released the boundaries for the new organisations, which will be rolled out from next year.
There is still uncertainty about how the much-hyped Primary Health Network reform will differ from its predecessor.
But the boundary shake-up, which will see one network each in the ACT, NT and Tasmania, is detailed in a map on the Federal Department of Health's website.

Primary Health Network boundaries announced

15th Oct 2014
Julie Lambert
Flynn Murphy
THE government has announced 30 Primary Health Networks will replace the 61 Medicare Locals it defunded in the May federal budget.
A series of maps quietly uploaded to the health department's website today show the 17 Medicare Locals in NSW will be replaced with nine larger Primary Health Networks, and the 17 MLs in Victoria will drop to six PHNs.
WA will have three PHNs (down from eight) and South Australia will have two (from five). Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the ACT will retain a single zone each.
In Queensland, the door has been left open for the state’s largest PHN, Western Queensland, to be combined with one of three adjacent PHNs in the tender process.

Primary Health Networks – an opportunity for the AMA to make some money, expand its influence?

Melissa Sweet | Oct 16, 2014 2:29PM
Now that some details about the 30 Primary Health Networks (PHNs) have been released, it might be timely to see some serious analysis of who are the winners and the losers amid the considerable upheaval and waste involved in shifting from Medicare Locals to PHNs. 
That is one warts-and-all analysis I would very much like to read.
In the meantime, the letter below – sent from AMA Victoria to all Medicare Locals in that State – shows the AMA is positioning itself to be one of the winners from the shift, offering to assist consortia pitching to become PHNs (so long as they are committed to working collaboratively with the AMA) – for the tidy fee of $10,000.

Private health insurance in primary health care – what do the experts think?

Jennifer Doggett | Oct 13, 2014 11:53PM |
One of the major policy changes on the agenda of the Federal Government is the introduction of private health insurance (PHI) into primary health care.  This has been flagged by Peter Dutton in a number of speeches and media interviews and was also recommended by the Competition Policy Review.  While the exact role the Government has mind for PHI in primary health care is not clear, both BUPA and Medibank have already started to expand their activities in this sector. 
This policy direction has generated a robust debate with supporters of the Competition Policy Review position arguing that many of the intractable problems within primary health care (such as how to improve chronic disease management) could benefit from greater competition and innovation and others expressing concern about the impact of private funders on equity and access to care.
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 this time.
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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