Quote Of The Year

Timeless Quotes - Sadly The Late Paul Shetler - "Its not Your Health Record it's a Government Record Of Your Health Information"


H. L. Mencken - "For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong."

Thursday, November 23, 2017

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

November 23, 2017 Edition.
Well the Don has come back from Asia proclaiming a brilliant success but with rather less conviction being expressed by most others!
The main news this week and for the next week or so will be the attempt to pass some “Tax Reform”. Currently it is hard to know how that will play out but you can be sure the poor are unlikely to be better off after it is done – if it ever is.
The main other issue has been a Senate Candidate who seems to be a child molester (9 women so far have complained) but he still thinks he can elected! He is hoping to outTrump Trump!
In the rest of the world things are in the usual mess with Syria and Myanmar hosting catastrophes and Brexit and Catalonia still unresolved.
Last, of course we have seen Mugabe deposed in Zimbabwe – oh joy and about 30 years too late!
In Australia the results of the postal survey are on their way to becoming law – speed to resolution still unclear and we await the next polly to be caught out by Section 44 of the Constitution. We are already up to 9 having been knocked off!
Here are a few other things I have noticed.

Major Issues.

Why record low interest rates can't last

Jessica Irvine
Published: November 13 2017 - 12:00AM
If you're not confused about what's happening with the economy right now, you haven't been paying close enough attention.
Genuine head scratching at the highest echelons of economic policy making abounds.
Conventional economic wisdoms are being thrown out the window.
Of most concern to global central bankers and macroeconomy watchers is that the traditional relationship between falling joblessness and rising wages – otherwise known as the Phillips Curve – appears to many to be broken.

Expect tax cuts, soon, says Deloitte Access Budget Monitor

Peter Martin
Published: November 12 2017 - 11:45PM
The federal budget is built on the back of impossibly large tax increases that won't survive the coming election, a new report has warned.
The Deloitte Access budget monitor, released four weeks ahead of the official budget update, finds that on the government's own forecasts by 2021 the typical Australian income will have climbed $6100, but the typical tax take will have climbed $2500.
The tax take of 41 per cent of each extra dollar is way in excess of the typical average rate of 14.9 per cent and the typical marginal rate of 32.5 per cent.

Face the facts Australia - NZ is lapping us

Peter FitzSimons
Published: November 13 2017 - 12:18PM
Strange days indeed, most peculiar, Mama. Back in the day, on Wallaby and Waratah tours to New Zealand in the '80s and early '90s, we used to sneer a little unpleasantly about how . . . you know . . . provincial the Kiwis were. I mean, nice people and all, so long as they're not dressed all in black, wearing football boots and coming at you like herd of maddened bulls, but we had no doubt that, even as footballers for Gawd's sake, we were the sophisticates in the piece.
We were from Australia, you see, and were just so far ahead of them all in every field we could think of, bar the rugby field! But, bit by bit, things changed and it was the Kiwis who took in the lead on so many matters of progress.
At the 1999 World Cup, when the All Blacks sang their national anthem, they sang the first verse in Maori, and the practice took off soon afterwards, embraced by the whole population. Their racial politics is one where inclusion and integration are the shared goals of all races. Not long afterwards, Maori Television Service was established, a TV network devoted to the promotion of the Maori language and culture, after legal action was successfully taken forcing the government's hand, on the grounds that under the Treaty of Waitangi 1840, the British colonists had promised to preserve Maori culture. They have a treaty. It is taken seriously, and guides them.

Australia: a nation of cash-poor millionaires

Elizabeth Knight
Published: November 14 2017 - 7:00AM
Who wants to be a millionaire? Forget the game show and the song titles – the average Australian household now has more than a million dollars in net wealth. The trouble is we are becoming increasingly cash poor.
While the value of our homes has risen to the point where the average household can boast millionaire status – on paper at least – Deloitte Access Economists has found 37 per cent of households are concerned about their ability to pay their bills and household costs. It expects this number to increase to 40 per cent within two years.
The major culprit has been the combination of slow wages growth and increases in the cost of living, including utilities, health costs and even groceries if taken on a 10-year view.

Global credit market flashes early warning alert

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
Published: November 13 2017 - 1:12PM
The credit markets have sharp antennae. They issued early warning alerts four to eight weeks before each episode of stress over the last 20 years, although with several false alarms along the way.
The shake-out in the US junk bond market last week had an ominous feel for traders and may finally mark the top of the post-Lehman boom in corporate credit. The exuberant reach for yield is nearing its limits.
"It is a sober moment. People are suddenly aware that central banks are turning serious and are not going to keep creating stimulus ad infinitum," said Marc Ostwald from ADM.

RBA's Guy Debelle says non-mining investment is picking up

Eryk Bagshaw
Published: November 13 2017 - 12:03PM
There are signs of life returning to investment outside the mining industry, says the Reserve Bank of Australia, which is hoping business "animal spirits" will sustain spending in the services sector as the resources boom comes to an end.
"It now appears that there has been a solid upward trajectory in non-mining business investment over the past couple of years," the central bank's deputy governor Guy Debelle said in Sydney on Monday.
Dr Debelle said non-mining investment was around 17 per cent higher than in the first three months of 2008. 

Why regulators are worrying about housing debt

Clancy Yeates
Published: November 14 2017 - 11:00AM
Barely a week goes by without some mention of Australians' record-breaking household debt.
You've probably seen the headlines: we have more housing debt relative to income than just about any country in the world, which would leave us vulnerable if there were another global financial crisis or a property bust.
Yet despite all these concerns, and tougher credit policies from banks, the debt pile is still growing faster than income. It recently hit a new record high as a proportion of household disposable income, at 190 per cent.

Enough of the stuff: New tax break could help cure Australians of affluenza

Ross Gittins
Published: November 15 2017 - 1:05AM
If our grandparents could see us now, what would they think? They'd be amazed by our affluence, but shocked by our wastefulness.
You'd never know it to hear us grousing about the cost of living, but most of us are living more prosperous, comfortable, even opulent lives than Australians have ever lived.
We live in a consumer society, surrounded by our possessions. We're always buying more stuff, more gadgets, an extra car, more TVs for other rooms, more laptops, iPads and smartphones.

Same-sex marriage postal survey: 'Love has had a landslide victory' as 'Yes' wins

Michael Koziol
Published: November 15 2017 - 11:44AM
Australians have emphatically voted in favour of legalising same-sex marriage, saying "yes" to the historic social change by a substantial margin of 61.6 per cent to 38.4 per cent.
After years of political stagnation, the public has now tasked the Turnbull government with changing the law before Christmas to allow same-sex couples to marry.
Almost 80 per cent of eligible voters participated in the unprecedented voluntary postal survey, giving the verdict an authority unmatched by most elections globally.

SA dumps bank tax

The South Australian government has dropped its controversial bank tax and says it won't try and reintroduce it, even Labor wins the next state election.
Tim Dornin
Australian Associated Press November 15, 201712:34pm
The South Australian government has abandoned its controversial bank tax.
Premier Jay Weatherill says the levy, designed to raise $360 million from the big banks over the next four years, has no prospect of being passed in state parliament.

Why interest rates will be lower for longer

Daryl Dixon
Published: November 16 2017 - 8:30AM
Despite the increasing concern of indebted borrowers about possible interest rate rises, continuing low inflation and a softening property market will ensure that even with likely rate increases overseas, Australian rates will remain low for longer.
At a macro-economic level, the Reserve Bank has recognised the mortgage stress that increases in interest rates to more normal levels would create. More importantly, the Bank considers that the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority's rule tightening has reduced the need for rate rises to slow down a buoyant property market.
Restrictions on overseas buyer purchases and an oversupply of apartments in Brisbane and parts of other major capitals has dramatically altered the situation of off-the-plan purchasers. Previously, the purchasers could be confident of obtaining loans at valuations close to their contract prices and have the option of selling their property for a profit before settlement date. 

If you want to live even longer, you might not like what you have to do

Peter Martin
Published: November 16 2017 - 11:29AM
So you'd like to live forever.
I'm going to deliver some bad news, straight from this week's conference on the future of Australian lifespans. You probably won't even make 100.
Worse still, your children probably won't make 100, and maybe not even their children.

How can we do democracy better?

Peter Hartcher
Published: November 18 2017 - 12:05AM
 Australia has just conducted "probably our boldest electoral experiment since the military conscription plebiscites of 1916 and 1917", in the words of Liberal Senator Dean Smith, the author of the private member's bill that will now carry the result of the marriage plebiscite into law.
"At a time when public faith in political institutions is being sorely tested, even opponents of the postal survey or plebiscites more generally" - and they included Smith himself - "must concede the Australian people have reminded us that they are the true custodians of our civic character."
Politicians on all sides tell us that now that the people have spoken, the Parliament will debate and legislate and show us "Parliament at its finest" or "Parliament at its best".

Royal commission into child detention hands down 'disturbing' findings

Fergus Hunter
Published: November 17 2017 - 2:04PM
1:32pm on 17 Nov 2017   Fergus Hunter
Wrapping up
Thanks for joining us as we've gone through the royal commission's findings and recommendations and the reactions from political leaders and community groups.
To recap:
The commission has recommended wholesale change of the NT's youth detention and child protection systems to address "shocking and systemic failures". It says the problems have been ignored at the highest levels and called for the rapid closure of the Don Dale youth detention facility. 
The federal and NT governments have pledged serious action in response to the report. Community groups have made clear they will fight to make sure the recommendations are not forgotten and neglected.

Why universities should never get to set their own fees

Ross Gittins
Published: November 18 2017 - 12:15AM
The Productivity Commission has changed its ideological tune, shifting away from the slavish adherence to an idealised version of the "neoclassical" model of the economy for which it and its predecessors became notorious.
It's moved to a more nuanced approach, recognising the many respects in which real-world markets differ from those described in elementary textbooks.
This shift has been underway since the present chairman of the commission, Peter Harris, succeeded Gary Banks in 2012.

Coalition's crisis has a simple cause: it keeps supporting deeply unpopular policies

Richard Denniss
Published: November 18 2017 - 12:15AM
The times are a' changing. Australians voted overwhelmingly for equal marriage; the NSW and Victorian parliaments are achingly close to legalising voluntary euthanasia; and the Queensland Premier recently performed a spectacular backflip and committed her government to vetoing any federal government loan for the enormous Adani coal mine. A recent poll by the Australia Institute found 63 per cent of Queenslanders thought the loan should go to other projects; just 21 per cent wanted the money to go to Adani.
Conservative politicians have a loud voice in the media but are failing as spectacularly in their efforts to win over voters as they are to prevent the march of progressive policies. Just as Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey dumped most of the spending cuts that they proposed in 2014, the Turnbull government abandoned its plans to increase the GST and is crab-walking away from its promise to cut the company tax rate for big business. Most of the opponents of equal marriage hastily abandoned their plans to drag out the parliamentary debate with a focus on "religious freedom" in the face of overwhelming public support for marriage freedom.

National Budget Issues.

  • Updated Nov 12 2017 at 11:45 PM

Cut imputation to fund company tax cut: academics

The Turnbull government could fund its company tax cuts by dumping dividend imputation in favour of a dividend discount or a Trump-style broadening of the base by denying interest deductions by companies.
Citing concerns about how Australia will afford to lower its corporate rate to 25 per cent, leading academics have modelled a series of reform options.
They include abolishing dividend imputation entirely, which would generate $11.1 billion a year at the 30 per cent rate.

Scene set for tax cuts next year: Deloitte

Deloitte Access Economics' Chris Richardson doubts an improved budget bottom line will last, predicting the government will only just make a surplus in 2020/21.
Source: AAP 13 November, 2017 
An avid federal budget watcher believes personal income tax cuts will be on the agenda next year, a welcome relief with wage growth at a record low.
In coming to that position, economist Chris Richardson argues the budget is in better shape - at least in the short term - the government is behind in the polls and the tax take will rise relatively fast in the next few years, mostly from middle-income earners.
"That combination says tax cuts," Mr Richardson says.

Report shows govt far from low taxing: ALP

Colin Brinsden, AAP Economics Correspondent
Monday, 13 November 2017 3:42PM
A new analysis discredits the Turnbull government's claim about being low taxing and further highlights the optimistic forecasts that underpin predictions of a surplus in 2020/21, Labor claims.
A Deloitte Access Economics report states that for every dollar saved on spending as part of budget repair, five dollars will come from higher taxes.
Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen says it wasn't long ago reducing income tax was the "great challenge of our time", but that's been replaced with income tax hikes for low and middle-income Australians.

Health Budget Issues.

Health insurance reform: the good, the bad and the ugly

Authored by Hugo Wilcken
  • a requirement that insurers categorise their products as gold, silver, bronze or basic, depending on how much cover they provide;
  • discounts on premiums for adults aged under 30 years;
  • allowing customers higher excess limits for lower premiums;
  • allowing customers to upgrade policies to include full mental health cover with no waiting period;
  • providing travel and accommodation expenses to and from hospitals for rural and remote customers;
  • scrapping of rebates for a raft of complementary health therapies; and
  • slashing the cost of medical devices, such as pacemakers or joint replacements, for insurers.
  • Updated Nov 13 2017 at 4:28 PM

Affordability challenge to Medibank's healthy prognosis

Craig Drummond has made some headway addressing the alarming increase in customer complaints and sliding market share he inherited when he took on the chief executive role at Medibank Private. There is still a lot more work to do though and his biggest challenge is the same one facing the industry as a whole – affordability.
As Drummond notes in his address to Medibank's annual meeting on Monday, the package of measures Health Minister Greg Hunt launched earlier this month will help chip away at the high costs of healthcare.
The more obvious savings will come from cheaper prosthetics and better access to mental health services. However, they are just the tip of the iceberg and analysts believe health insurers still face an uphill battle stopping Australians from ditching their policies because they are too expensive.

Rate of private hospital cover continues to fall, new figures show

  • The Australian
  • 11:04AM November 15, 2017

Sean Parnell

The rate of private hospital cover in Australia continues to fall ahead of a series of reforms that Health Minister Greg Hunt hopes will make insurance more affordable and policies more transparent.
The latest figures from the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, released yesterday, put hospital cover at 45.8 per cent of the population in the September quarter, down from 46.1 per cent in June. That is the lowest rate of coverage since early 2012, a downward trend blamed largely on the cost of premiums and erosion of the government rebate.
In response, the government is making a second round of cuts to prostheses prices and in March plans to introduce legislation to support discounts for young people, larger excess payments, regional and rural travel and accommodation benefits.

Health insurance premium hike could be lowest in 13 years: Bupa executive

  • The Australian
  • 4:04PM November 14, 2017

Sarah-Jane Tasker

A top executive at Australia’s largest health insurer, Bupa, has hinted next year’s premium increase could be the lowest in almost 13 years as the government leans on the sector to address affordability concerns.
Dwayne Crombie, who heads up the Australian health insurance arm of UK giant Bupa, said given the focus on affordability concerns, it seemed obvious next year’s premium increase would be lower than this year.
“There is blunt pressure from the (Health) minister (Greg Hunt) and we are going through a process, so we can’t comment on the detail,” he said.

Out-of-pocket health costs review needed more than ever

Latest figures showing consumers are paying out more than ever to health funds and doctors, make it more important than ever for the Government’s proposed out-of-pocket costs project to result in a better deal for patients, the Consumers Health Forum says.
The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority figures show that in the 12 months to September, health fund revenue from members’ premiums rose at a faster rate than the amount they paid in benefits to their members.  Premium revenue totalled $23.3 billion, an increase of 4.3 per cent on the previous year while benefits totalled $19.7 billion, a rise of 3.7 per cent. The funds’ net profit after tax rose to $1.43 billion, up by 4.8 per cent.
“These figures might be healthy for health funds’ bottom line but they are not great medicine for private patients who not only face higher premiums but also a 5 per cent jump in out of pocket costs,” the CEO of the Consumers Health Forum, Leanne Wells, said.
  • Nov 17 2017 at 11:44 AM

The great knees up: the operation that is bad for Australia

Knee arthroscopies are so popular in Perth that one of the city's top orthopedic surgeons advertises them on Facebook. In Sydney, health officials are trying to stamp them out. In Canberra, they are seen as an enemy of good public policy practiced by an entrenched medical profession.
The $5000 in-and-out procedure - which can help people improve their walking and running - has become an unexpected frontline in the national productivity debate.
Even though peer-reviewed research has found little or no benefit for many patients, especially those over 55, almost 30,000 arthroscopies were carried out in Australia in 2014-15, the latest period of public data.

International Issues.

The truth Donald Trump's Asia trip confirms: Asia is sidestepping his clown act

Peter Hartcher
Published: November 14 2017 - 12:05AM
Is a clown on tour any less a clown? No. That's a truth that Donald Trump's Asia trip affirms. The region's nations are moving on, shaping a world where the US is still present but not leading. And that includes Australia.
If you'd ever wanted to see a case study in the soft bigotry of low expectations, it was the first part of Trump's trip. Because he didn't start a fistfight or insult his hosts, quite a few commentators gushed about the new serious Trump, the measured Trump, the strategist Trump.
Of course it was only a matter of time until the clown resumed his regular performances. He was soon in his element, exchanging schoolyard insults with the criminally despotic leader of a rogue regime. North Korea called him a "dotard".
  • Updated Nov 14 2017 at 9:31 AM

The UK is at Europe’s mercy when it comes to a Brexit deal

by Gideon Rachman
Britain is drifting towards disaster on Brexit — without a viable diplomatic, economic or political strategy to make a success of the venture.
The central problem is that the British government is stuck between an implacable EU and an unrealistic Conservative party. The EU will not offer anything like the deal that Britain's Brexiters still dream of. But Theresa May's Conservative colleagues are still unprepared to accept this unpleasant reality.
In this paralysing situation, it seems increasingly likely the UK government will simply be politically and technically incapable of delivering a negotiated Brexit. As a result, the likeliest outcome is that, late in the day — perhaps in January 2019 — the EU will present Britain with a "take it or leave it" deal.

Soldiers take over Zimbabwe broadcaster, explosions heard

MacDonald Dzirutwe
Published: November 15 2017 - 11:19AM
Harare:  Several loud explosions echoed across central Harare in the early hours of Wednesday after troops deployed on the streets of the capital and seized the state broadcaster, prompting speculation of a coup against 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe.
Some ZBC members of staff were manhandled when soldiers occupied the premises of Zimbabwe's ZBC, two members of staff and a human rights worker said. However, staff were told they "should not worry" as the soldiers were merely there to protect the site, one source added.
Earlier, the country's ruling party accused the head of the armed forces of treason as troops took up positions around the capital in a dramatic escalation of a dispute with Mugabe over political succession.

Zimbabwe: Is it a coup? Sure feels like one

Adam Taylor
Published: November 16 2017 - 11:46AM
Military vehicles were stationed across Zimbabwe's capital early on Wednesday, with the country's long-time leader under house arrest. But is it a military coup? Not at all, according to the military.
"We wish to make it abundantly clear that this is not a military takeover," said a televised statement read by Major General Sibusiso Moyo, adding that the military was targeting "criminals" around President Robert Mugabe "who are committing crimes that are causing social and economic suffering in the country".
There are certainly those in Zimbabwe who seem to agree. On Twitter, journalist Maynard Manyowa described scenes of calm in Harare. "No coup here," Manyowa wrote.

'This is a genuine crisis': The 'cliff edge' moment coming for Britain

Nick Miller
Published: November 17 2017 - 8:04PM
The British government has just lurched out of a horror fortnight, losing two senior ministers over serious misbehaviour.
Small beer, says the most excitingly named man in British politics, Lord Adonis (aka Baron Adonis, aka Andrew Adonis, Tony Blair's former head of policy). "All governments lose cabinet ministers because they behave badly," he says. "There are always more where they came from."
The real crisis is, and always has been, Brexit.

Zimbabwe's ruling party set to sack Robert Mugabe on Sunday, sources say

Published: November 19 2017 - 3:51AM
Harare: Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party will meet on Sunday to dismiss President Robert Mugabe and reinstate the vice-president he dismissed, Emmerson Mnangagwa, two party sources told Reuters on Saturday.
The sources said a party central committee meeting scheduled for 10:30am local time would also dismiss 93-year-old Mugabe's preferred successor, his wife Grace, from her role as head of the ZANU-PF Women's League.
Mugabe's 37-year rule has been effectively at an end since the army seized control on Wednesday, confining him to his residence, saying it wanted to target the "criminals" around him.

Australia welcomes reported collapse of Islamic State 'caliphate' after three years of bloodshed

David Wroe
Published: November 18 2017 - 5:59PM
The Turnbull government has welcomed reports the Islamic State's so-called caliphate has fallen after the liberation of the last militant-held town in Iraq but signalled the group still needs to be fought globally as a terrorist outfit.
Late on Friday, Australian time, the Iraqi military announced it had retaken the town of Rawa on the Syrian border, the final hold-out for the militant group that swept across large areas of Syria and Iraq in mid-2014, sending shockwaves around the world.
About 1000 Australian military personnel have been involved in the fight against the group for the past three years, mostly in Iraq. These have included a large RAAF contingent, about 300 army trainers and several dozen special forces "advising and assisting" the Iraqis. There is no immediate news of their withdrawal.
I look forward to comments on all this!

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