Thursday, August 06, 2015

2016 Budget - Parliament Back Next Week - So The Fun Begins Again!.

August 6 Edition
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.
Parliament comes back on 10th August - so we can expect things to warm up at that point! Right now #choppergate seems to be taking over everything. Hopefully it will pass soon.
Before all the news - the best news this week!

Ebola vaccine hailed a lifesaver

An Ebola vaccine has provided 100 per cent protection in a field trial in hard-hit Guinea, ­researchers and officials said last night, mooting “the beginning of the end” of the killer West ­African outbreak.
The world is “on the verge of an effective Ebola vaccine’’, the World Health Organisation said, hailing the results from the first efficacy test of the VSV-ZEBOV vaccine among people living in a high-danger zone.
“This is an extremely promising development,” WHO chief Margaret Chan said.
“An effective vaccine will be another very important tool for both current and future Ebola outbreaks.”
About 28,000 people have been infected in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia and more than 11,000 have died in the worst ebola outbreak in history.
Here is some other of the recent other news and analysis.

General Budget Issues.

Hockey needs to redo his growth numbers - pronto

The last budget was built on the assumption that growth would magically rise. But that's looking increasingly unlikely, and Joe Hockey can't bury his head in the sand and ignore this any longer, writes Ian Verrender.
The ostrich is a much maligned creature. Lithe of build, fleet of foot, majestic in movement, its popular reputation instead has been forged upon a complete myth; that when faced with danger, it buries its head in the sand in a forlorn effort to escape reality.
No one ever questions the obvious flaws in this truism, such as: what would happen if it were perhaps coursing rocky terrain? Or, having the good fortune to be in either the Sahara or on some exotic beach, that suffocation surely would be the end result, thereby defeating the concept of an imaginary flight to safety.
Still, the malicious tales persist, to the point where our feathered friend regularly is held up to ridicule, occasionally to the extent that he finds himself in the company of politicians.

US to retreat on innovative biologic medicines in Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact

Date July 27, 2015 - 5:31PM

John Garnaut

Asia Pacific editor for Fairfax Media

Millions of patients with intractable diseases look set to escape punishing price hikes on innovative medicines, as the United States backs down on a key trade demand.
The US retreat on new biotech medicines won't settle a raging debate about the cross-over of trade policy and public health but it will remove a major obstacle to completing a Trans Pacific Partnership, as ministers sit down in Hawaii for four days of make-or-break talks.
The TPP promises benefits for farmers and service providers in Australia but doctors, public health advocates and economists have been outraged by US moves to use it as a vehicle to extend drug company monopolies over expensive biologic drugs.

In TPP talks, Barack Obama loses battle against traditional trade powers

Date August 1, 2015 - 9:01PM

John Garnaut

Asia Pacific editor for Fairfax Media

It is the old agenda of dairy, sugar and cars that has all-but-killed a trade deal that was billed as the biggest the world has seen in 20 years.
But that's not really what the Trans-Pacific Partnership was meant to be about.
The TPP was about setting rules for an evolving information economy where value lies in "data" more than "goods".
It was about entrenching the clean, transparent and open norms that are necessary for cross-border services and investments to thrive.
12:39pm July 29, 2015

How govt will pay for its research fund

Labor has slammed the federal government's medical research fund as a "cruel hoax", insisting the savings measures that will be used to pay for the fund have no hope of getting through parliament.
In response to a Senate estimates question on notice, the government has revealed 27 areas where it has found savings to pay for its $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund.
It includes $1.8 billion from changes to the way the government will fund public hospitals, along with $2.3 million from cuts to the World Health Organisation.
Opposition health spokeswoman Catherine King says the list reveals the fund is a "cruel hoax" on the medical community.

Health Budget Issues.

AMA president makes a wrong diagnosis on budgetary disorders

Nick Cater

Brian Owler would never be so crass as to put his hand out for money. Instead, the Australian Medical Association president is calling for “an urgent recognition of the costs of providing high-quality care”, which ­ultimately amounts to the same thing.
Owler told the National Press Club last week it was not the AMA’s job to say where the funding should come from. Whether the public should pay more in GST or an increased Medicare levy was a matter of indifference to him. The bottom line was that general practice was “on the brink of disaster”, the hospital system was struggling and the money simply had to be found.
“There is clearly a revenue problem,” Owler asserted. “It’s not an expenditure problem. At the end of the day, we need to make sure that there is sufficient funding for our public hospitals.”

Dear Ministers, you are precipitating a catastrophe

Date July 29, 2015 - 9:03PM

Neil Phillips

Closing the Aboriginal Medical Service Western Sydney will deprive 11,000 patients of their special cultural, social and medical needs.
With 11,000 active patients on its books, the Aboriginal Medical Service Western Sydney, a health service developed over the last 28 years, is to be closed by the end of September.
For 15 years I have been the one day a week psychiatrist who works in the mental health team of that service.The mental health team has been providing mental health services for hundreds of Aboriginal patients, many of whom have very serious mental illnesses.
There is a core of about 140 patients who need close case management and regular assessment. Apart from relieving the distress of mental illnesses and disorders, the team has stabilised many seriously mentally ill Aboriginal people and helped them escape the cycle of poorly treated mental illness that leads to personal and family horrors, self-harm, addiction, violence, incarceration, suicide and homicide.

Health funding: private patients in public hospitals on the rise

Sean Parnell

Almost 30 per cent of all hospital admissions for privately insured patients are now in the public system, with state governments relying on health funds to prop up their budgets.
In another illustration of the cost-shifting that continues to distort the health sector and challenge stakeholders, the states are encouraging public hospitals to bill insurers even though Australians have a right to be treated publicly for free.
One of the final papers prepared by the Private Health Insur­ance Administration Council — which has been abolished, with its functions transferred to the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority — has looked at trends in hospital services.
The paper reveals the public hospital share of overnight admiss­ions by insured patients has risen from 20.9 per cent in 2003 to 28.8 per cent last year, with the private hospital share falling by a similar amount.

Bupa backs Medibank Private in hospital dispute

Sarah-Jane Tasker

Australia’s second-largest health insurer, Bupa, has backed its biggest rival in what is tipped to be a long, hard-fought stoush with private hospitals over contract negotiations amid rising concerns about affordability.
Dwayne Crombie, managing director of Bupa’s Australian health insurance business, said its major competitor, Medibank Private, and every health insurer needed to get better value for the customer.
“We get the impression that private hospitals and doctors are living in a world of their own, thinking the golden goose will never stop laying the eggs,” Mr Crombie said.
“We have a clear appreciation for the customer and how they feel about things. When we negotiate with hospitals, they live in a different world. They don’t really give us a sense they understand how much (financial) pain the consumer is in.”

Pharmacy Issues.

Pharmacists’ war of words

27 July, 2015 Meg Pigram
A war of words has erupted on social media between an angry Queensland pharmacist and a senior Guild official.
Steve Flavel, (pictured) owner of Woody Point Pharmacy has created the Facebook page “Pharmacy Under Threat” to spearhead his campaign against the PBS co-payment discount.
Recently, he has been engaged in a public dispute with Queensland Guild president Tim Logan over the Guild’s strategy and acceptance of the discount.
Mr Flavel said Mr Logan advised him there was only “the most remote chance” of having the discount repealed.

Viagra prices tipped to go down

27 July, 2015 Chris Brooker
Claims that limited pharmacy competition in Australia leads to elevated prices for Viagra have been dismissed by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia.
Recent News Limited reports claim that “Australian men are paying up to 140% more to combat impotence that British blokes, with the price of Viagra and its generic copies far higher down under.”
According to the reports, a survey of UK pharmacies in January found that Rowlands pharmacies were selling an eight pack of Viagra (sildenafil) 50mg for £5 ($10.56), while the Co-op Pharmacy had a price of £4.90 ($10.35). Pharmacy 2U was selling the eight-pack available in the UK for £8.50.
In contrast, the four-packs (50mg strength) available in Australia were selling for $8.95 in Pharmacy Direct and $12.99 in Chemist Warehouse, the article claims.

Cut to co-pay is here to stay

31 July, 2015 Chris Brooker
The federal government remains committed to the $1 PBS co-pay discount, saying it will save up to $360 million in PBS expenditure, Health Minister Sussan Ley says.
Speaking at the opening of PSA15 in Sydney, Ms Ley emphasised the government’s commitment to the community pharmacy network.
She also emphasised the government remained committed to introducing the controversial co-pay discount, due to become available from 1 January 2016.
“This measure will drive greater competition in the pharmacy sector,” the Minister said, helping to create a “more efficient and cost effective medicines system for taxpayers.”

Sunday, 2 August 2015

CHF surveys shows support for expanded pharmacist role

Most Australians would like to see pharmacists have a greater role in patient care in the community, a survey by the Consumers Health Forum has found.

In a finding that vindicates moves towards more integrated, community-based health care, the CHF online survey revealed that nearly three quarters of respondents supported pharmacists providing expanded services, either co-located with doctors or at local pharmacies, while fewer than a quarter of respondents opposed such a move.

The Chief Executive Officer of CHF, Leanne Wells, said the survey showed that most people wanted to see their pharmacists have a greater role in performing basic support services such as immunisations and blood pressure checks and working with GPs to help chronically ill patients better manage their medication.

“The major implication of these results is that defenders of traditional “silos” of medicine need to rethink the traditional roles for GPs and pharmacists,” Ms Wells said.

“While a clear majority support expanding the role of the pharmacist, it seems clear that most would not wish to see eroded the central role of the GP in their health care.

“Indeed a somewhat higher proportion of respondents (74.2 per cent) would like to see a pharmacist co-located with the GP compared to those supporting the local pharmacists providing increased services (69.6 per cent).

“We believe both models of expanded care by pharmacists should be explored.

“If pharmacists are going to assume a greater role in the provision of primary care services, then health professionals are going to have to think through what training and accommodation will be necessary to give consumers the confidence that these services do not dilute the quality they have come to expect from GPs.

“CHF commissioned the survey to gauge consumer views on this fundamental development of primary care and to ensure that consumer needs will be met in the services resulting from policy changes.  More than 500 people responded to the survey.

“The new Community Pharmacy Agreement provides for $50 million for a Pharmacy Trial Program for the expansion of the role of pharmacists in the delivery of certain healthcare services, with a potential total of $1.2 billion being made available over the next five years for additional pharmacy services at large.

“About four out of five respondents reported that their local pharmacy already offered at least one of six primary care services listed in the survey: blood pressure checks (69.3 per cent), weight management (50.8 per cent), diabetes management (40.8 per cent), vaccinations (36.1 per cent), addiction support (25.3 per cent), and mental health support (8.8 per cent).

“It is clear however that the reservations of significant numbers of people about expanding the pharmacist’s role show that development requires clear guidelines, training and effective public education.
“The most strongly expressed concern among the respondents who did not support their local pharmacists offering care services was the risk of having their GP “out of the loop”, followed by concerns about the safety and quality of the services, the level of privacy in the pharmacy, the confidentiality of information, and the provision of these services by a pharmacist.

“What clearly came through in the survey was a desire among consumers for their health care providers to be “on the same page” when it comes to the provision of health services.

“Given the evidence of consumer support for change, we need to ensure that the service design and provision does not compromise quality and safety standards.

“The purpose of this policy should be to fill gaps in primary care coverage, not to promote a system that is fragmented and prone to further dysfunction,” Ms Wells said.


Media contact: Mark Metherell .
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 pollies away in their electorates for a little while longer things should be stable for a while. Last week, probably because of issues and Greece, China etc. easing off.  we saw a good bounce - up a bit over 4% last week and a bit more this week - next week will tell!

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