Thursday, November 03, 2016

The Macro View – Health And Political News Relevant To E-Health And Health In General.

November 3  Edition.
Parliament  is due back on the 7th of November. I wonder what mess we will have emerged by the time we all get to be reading this.
Both here and overseas one gets the feeling we might be heading into a soft patch. Time will tell if I am right. Certainly the looming US election is beginning to cause some issues for the world!
In Australia we do seem to be a bit demoralised with the share-market having fallen 2.7% last week and bond yields have risen significantly.
Interest rates now seem to be so low that it is doing harm.
  • October 29 2016 - 9:19AM

Why ultra-low interest rates are on the nose

Clancy Yeates
People making a miserable return on their savings accounts aren't the only ones losing patience with very low interest rates.
In the last month, heavyweights from the International Monetary Fund and Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, and some central banks themselves, have all been banging on about the growing dangers created in a world of very cheap debt.
Even our own Reserve Bank has flagged concerns about how low interest rates globally are affecting investor behaviour.
Why the outbreak of concern? How come we are hearing more about these risks now, some eight years after rates were slashed to combat the global financial crisis? And do these risks apply here in Australia?

Thursday Update:

The prospects for a Trump victory and all that involves (wall, no trade, nuclear risk etc.) means all share markets have fallen big time! Ours more than most.

On another tack we now seem to have political chaos in our Senate. Its all pretty sad!


Here are a few other things I have noticed.

Budget Issues.

  • October 25 2016 - 6:43AM

Coalition's housing affordability inquiry scrapped amid growing market fears

Peter Martin
James Massola
The government is sitting on hundreds of pages of evidence and scores of submissions about housing affordability it is unable to use because it let its inquiry into the subject lapse.
News of the quashed inquiry emerged as Treasurer Scott Morrison delivered a speech in which he declared housing affordability to be an "important policy focus" of the Turnbull government in the new parliamentary term.

The vanishing Australian dream

The commonwealth of home ownership is being replaced by a new feudalism of negative-gearing investment, says Peter Martin.
  • October 24 2016

Scott Morrison puts states on notice over house prices

James Massola

Treasurer Scott Morrison has put the states on notice over booming house prices, flagging a major push by the Turnbull government to increase supply and help first home buyers own their own home.
And Mr Morrison will promise the next meeting of state and federal treasurers, to be held in December, will focus on how state governments can do away with planning rules that stop, or delay, new houses being built.
He will also leave the door open to incentives for state governments to reform their laws and release more land, in a broadening of one of the key recommendations of the Harper review of competition policy.
  • Updated Oct 25 2016 at 9:33 AM

States say CGT and neg gearing must be part of housing price fix

The states have welcomed the prospect of federal government payments in return for increasing housing supply but argue Canberra must also do its bit for affordability by looking at curbing capital gains tax exemptions and negative gearing.
As Treasurer Scott Morrison launched another debate with the states on Monday about removing impediments to supply and flagged incentive payments as rewards, the Labor Treasurers of South Australia, Queensland and Victoria said Commonwealth policy must also play a role.
"If you want to have an honest discussion about housing affordability, you've got to put everything on the table, not just land availability," said SA's Tom Koutsantonis.
"Confident governments aren't afraid of debate," he said.
  • October 25 2016 - 12:05AM

Scott Morrison ignores the average property punter

Now he is making states the scapegoats instead of looking at tax breaks.
Punters accept that some horses in the Melbourne Cup next Tuesday will wear blinkers to keep them focused on the job at hand. The blinkers stop the nags shying away from a noisy, desperate mob on the fence. The privileged few in the members stand, by contrast, are winning in the financial race of life no matter which horses greets the judge first.
Treasurer Scott Morrison, it seems, cares more about preserving the members' benefits than giving the punters a fair go. He has blinkered himself on housing affordability in a way that locks in a two-tier access to the property market.
While it's good news that the Treasurer is talking about house prices and wants states to help tackle lack of supply, Mr Morrison is letting politics and vested interest blind his judgment. A mix of solutions is needed for a problem created by a complex interplay of factors beyond housing supply.

Treasurer Scott Morrison urges business tax cuts to drive South Australian jobs growth

Paul Starick, CHIEF REPORTER, The Advertiser
October 26, 2016 12:36am
JOBS growth in some of South Australia’s most important businesses is at risk unless they are given tax cuts, Treasurer Scott Morrison will tell an Adelaide forum today.
In an interview with The Advertiser, Mr Morrison argued that prominent firms like Golden North, d’Arenberg and others with a turnover up to $50 million deserved tax relief to drive jobs and wages growth.
SA Senator Nick Xenophon has declared he will back a tax cut for 27.5 per cent for businesses with a turnover up to $10 million.
But Mr Morrison, who is in talks with Senator Xenophon, argues this blocks tax cuts for medium-sized businesses with turnovers up to $50 million which are the engine room of the SA economy.
  • October 27 2016 - 7:32AM

Who's to blame for rising house prices? We are, actually

Peter Martin
If only we had a clue why home prices are soaring out of reach. On Monday Treasurer Scott Morrison offered half a clue. He told the Urban Development Institute it was all about supply. The more houses and apartments that developers were allowed to build, he said, the more residents would be able to buy.
That's true, if you avert your eyes from some of the more immediate reasons residents are unable to buy. And they're growing.
Morrison said over the past 20 years the proportion of households either owning outright the homes in which they live or buying them with a mortgage has slid from 71 to 67 per cent. For Australians aged 25 to 34 the proportion has dived from 39 to 29 per cent, and for those between 35 and 44, from 63 to 52 per cent. These days only 13 per cent of new home loans go to first home buyers, down from 19 per cent.

Morrison tells NXT don't squib budget duty

October 26, 201610:48am
Australian Associated Press
Scott Morrison has told Senate powerbroker Nick Xenophon and his team not to "squib" their responsibility to back tax cuts for businesses in their South Australian state and support measures to repair the federal budget.
"When the Labor Party is going to vote against improving the budget ... (the Xenophon team) sit in the box seat here and they can't squib it," Mr Morrison told 5AA Adelaide radio on Wednesday.
The treasurer is holding a business roundtable in Adelaide on Wednesday about the government's plan to give tax cuts to firms that have an annual turnover of up to $50 million as part of its 10-year company tax plan.

Negative Gearing Is Positively Absurd

Here's how Scott Morrison can REALLY fix housing affordability.

27/10/2016 5:42 AM AEDT | Updated 5 hours ago
There are significant policy levers available for the Treasurer to pull.
Scott Morrison finally wants to talk about housing affordability. Good.
After years of pretending there isn't a problem, the Abbott/Turnbull Government has opened Pandora's Box, let the genie out of the bottle and, at long last, admitted that it is nigh on impossible for young Australians to buy their first home.
There are significant policy levers available for the Treasurer to pull, genuine actions that he could take within the remit of his portfolio, which would ease the unprecedented financial pressure on first home buyers. The problem is that he's refusing to even touch them.
  • Updated Oct 27 2016 at 11:45 PM

Morrison told not to bank terms of trade spike

The federal government is unlikely to factor into the coming budget update a long-term revenue boom from spiking commodity prices despite the temptation to do so to keep restive credit ratings agencies at bay.
With the government due to release its mid-year budget update in seven weeks,Treasurer Scott Morrison is being urged to maintain a sober outlook for the future direction of commodity prices or risk being caught short if the price surge turns out to be fleeting.
As the nation's most important commodity export – iron ore – traded above US$63 a tonne,  official figures showed the terms of trade jumped around 4.5 per cent in the September quarter.

Budget to gain from rising export prices

October 27, 20164:24pm
Colin Brinsden, AAP Economics Correspondent Australian Associated Press
A rebound in national income suggests Treasurer Scott Morrison will be able to report an improved budget bottom line when he hands down his mid-year review in December.
New figures show Australia's terms of trade grew for a second quarter in a row, after several years of decline in the post-mining boom era.
Export prices grew 3.5 per cent in the September quarter, the fastest growth in three years, and building on the 1.4 per cent increase in the previous three months.
Import prices fell for a fourth straight quarter, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics data released on Thursday.
  • Updated Oct 27 2016 at 1:46 PM

'Double-dipping' paid parental leave crackdown likely to be delayed

The Coalition's crackdown on parents so-called "double dipping" on paid parental leave due to start January 1 looks closer to getting through parliament but could be delayed under pressure from the crossbench who have slammed Treasurer Scott Morrison's 'megaphone lecturing'. 
Meanwhile the government have hit back at claims they do not understand working mothers, after Social Services Minister Christian Porter said PPL was designed to get women back to work, saying they were sympathetic. 
"We are fathers. We are husbands...Insofar as men can understand these matters, we are absolutely understanding and sympathetic and we are working with our colleagues and we will obviously engage with the Senate to negotiate the passage of this legislation," Mr Turnbull said. 
  • Updated Oct 29 2016 at 12:01 AM

Pauline Hanson sounds budget warning, defends welfare cuts.

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson has defended her party's decision to back more than $6 billion in welfare cuts, saying unless the country started living within its means it would no longer be able to provide essential services for those who needed them the most.
In an exclusive interview with AFR Weekend, Senator Hanson indicated One Nation would take a hard line in support of budget repair.
"Right across the board, not only in welfare, I see a big waste of money and we actually have to rein it back in."
She said successive governments, in a bid to win votes, had allowed welfare to become a way of life rather than a helping hand and "tough decisions" were needed.
  • Oct 28 2016 at 5:00 PM

Why the Senate comes down to the Scott Morrison and Nick Xenophon show

When the dust settled after the July 2 election, and the full extent of the new Senate crossbench was laid bare, the orthodox view was that the four One Nation senators would give the government its biggest headache.
But the past few weeks have shown the eclectic quartet led by Pauline Hanson has done anything but. Be it slashing welfare spending, giving big business a tax cut, or cracking down on rogue behaviour by trade unions, One Nation is up for the lot.
Despite the now frequent and often self-inflicted calamities which continue to knock the government off message, such as the solicitor-general saga or the occasional Tony Abbott hand grenade, the government is grinding away at securing Senate support for its legislative agenda in the hope that incremental gains there will translate into a broader momentum.
  • October 29 2016 - 9:34PM

Myth busted: Stay-at-home parents don't get more than those who work

Peter Martin
Adam Gartrell
Welfare experts have ridiculed a government claim that thousands of parents on government benefits earn more than if they had a job, saying it is built around a mathematical mistake.
The claim, published in The Australian on Friday and backed up by Social Services Minister Christian Porter, is that single parents with four children can get payments totalling $52,523 per year if they don't work but only $49,831 after tax if they work and receive the median full-time wage.
Mr Porter said the data showed taxpayer-funded benefits could be providing a ­disincentive to work, a systemic flaw that required government ­attention. "What is not in any recipients' best interest is to be deprived of the incentives to reduce income from welfare with income from work," he said.

Health Budget Issues.

Flagship bulk billing company Primary Health Care charges patients $100 to see a doctor

October 23, 2016 9:00pm
Sue Dunlevy
IT USED to be the champion of bulk billed GP visits — now Primary Health Care is charging patients $100 to see a doctor in one of its clinics.
That fee is $22 higher than the new fee recommended for a standard consultation by the AMA and as a result of the government’s freeze on Medicare rebates it will burn a huge hole in patient’s hip pockets.
Patients will have to cover $63 of this fee because the Medicare rebate is worth only $37.
It calls into question Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s election eve promise that no one would pay more to see a doctor as a result of his freeze on Medicare rebates.

Federal Government rejects call for special Medicare levy for family violence counselling

So far today police in Australia would have dealt with on average 318 domestic violence matters
The Federal Government has rebuffed Victoria's push for a special Medicare subsidy for family violence counselling services, despite a recommendation from the state's royal commission.
The Andrews Government pledged to implement all 227 of the commission's recommendations following a 13-month inquiry, including encouraging the Commonwealth to consider a special Medicare item number for family violence counselling.
Medicare rebates are available for up to 10 sessions per year, but only if patients are diagnosed with a mental health disorder.

Experts urged to boycott mental health plan

  • The Australian
  • 12:00AM October 27, 2016

Rachel Baxendale

The former head of the Mental Health Council of Australia has called for his colleagues to boycott the Health Department’s Fifth ­National Mental Health Plan, ­debunking it as “mealy mouthed rubbish” and contrary to the policy direction Malcolm Turnbull promised to pursue during the election campaign.
John Mendoza said the plan, which is a collaboration between state, territory and federal governments, was the work of bureaucrats with no institutional knowledge and sought to continue a flawed scheme of funding costly late-term intervention at the ­expense of prevention and early intervention.
Professor Mendoza urged colleagues at the Asia Pacific International Mental Health Conference in Brisbane yesterday to boycott the consultation process.

GP pathology rent: Is the govt heading for another disaster?

Paul Smith | 27 October, 2016 | 
Moves by the Federal Government to cut millions of dollars in rent currently paid to GP practices for co-located pathology centres could cause some clinics to go bust, or at least that is the claim.
The AMA is warning that $150 million a year in revenue could disappear, halving rents overnight for up to 5000 practices.
So has the government looked at whether its plans will damage the viability of practices?
Australian Doctor has published extracts from a Senate Estimates hearing below, where senior health department officials attempt to explain the government's latest plan.

Health Insurance Issues.

  • Oct 23 2016 at 12:07 PM

Health funds say billions in savings needed to curb premiums

Health insurers say the federal government needs to find more savings in the healthcare system and step up reform of the private health sector if it is going to take a hard line on how much they can increase their premiums by in 2017. 
Health fund bosses and the industry lobby say further reform of medical device rebates, a crackdown on public hospitals aggressively shifting costs to health funds and other regulatory reforms can deliver billions in savings that can be passed on to members.
"We are very conscious from our customers' point of view that their income is growing at a modest amount and healthcare costs have been growing at 5 to 6 per cent per annum, so affordability is a very big issue," Craig Drummond, chief executive of Medibank Private, said. 

Pharmacy Issues.

Guild reminds Ramsay on ownership regulations

The Pharmacy Guild has responded to media reports that Ramsay Health Care is set to open a Melbourne pharmacy by pointing out that community pharmacies must be owned by registered pharmacists.

And it is imperative that this requirement be upheld, the Guild says.
A report in Fairfax media on the weekend quoted the large private hospital operator Ramsay Health Care saying that it has “opened its first central-city pharmacy” in Melbourne.
The report said Ramsay had “taken a lease” over 300 square metres in a Melbourne CBD building to establish “a full-line Ramsay pharmacy.”
This is reportedly planned to be a “hyper-store” selling medicines and medical services including Chinese medicine.

Here’s your chance to tap into $50 million pool

25 October, 2016 0 comments 
Have you got a great idea for a new professional service in your pharmacy?
Grants are now available to run innovative trials to improve patient outcomes through the Pharmacy Trial Program, a $50 million pool set up through the 6CPA.
The federal government has opened invitations for pharmacies to apply for grants to trial programs that cover:
Disease management of appropriate conditions;
Medication management and reconciliation services for patients at the point of transition between care sectors to reduce the potential for medicines misadventure;

Ramsay denies expansion will flout ownership rules

26 October, 2016 Tessa Hoffman 
Ramsay Health Care has rejected the idea that its foray into community pharmacy will put it breach of ownership rules.
And it says there is no reason for speculation that its planned new hyper pharmacy will push smaller players out of Melbourne’s CBD.
The hospital group’s community pharmacy model is aligned with the ownership rules, says Peter Giannopoulos, the CEO of Ramsay Pharmacy Group.
“We operate under a franchise model. It’s a pharmacist-owned model,” he said in a wide-ranging interview with Pharmacy News.

Discounters grabbing market share from traditional pharmacies

27 October, 2016 Tessa Hoffman 
Discounters are beating traditional pharmacies in what has become a two-tier marketplace.
That’s the view of market researcher Daniel Bone of IRI Australia. He says the discounters have had a major “disruptive” impact on community pharmacy.
He told delegates at the Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) annual conference in Sydney on Thursday that the community pharmacy had grown by 4% overall in the year to July, but discounters had grown sales by 19.3%.
He cited a Canstar Blue survey that asked 3000 consumers what they wanted from a pharmacy. Just over 40% said “cheapest prices”, and a third said “good service”.

Minister backs medicine downscheduling

More work needs to be done on downscheduling medicines in Australia, the Minister for Health believes.

Meanwhile a final decision on the scheduling of codiene could be delivered before the end of the year
Speaking at the Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) Conference in Sydney yesterday, Minister Sussan Ley said there are strong arguments supporting the downscheduling of some prescription medicines to the pharmacist-only (S3) category.   
Looking across the Tasman for examples, the Minister said influenza, urinary tract infection and migraine medicines were among those that were non-prescription in New Zealand, but remained S4 in Australia.
I look forward to comments on all this!

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