Quote Of The Year

Quote Of The Year - Paul Shetler - "Its not Your Health Record it's a Government Record Of Your Health Information"

Thursday, April 05, 2018

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

April 05, 2018 Edition.
Again it has been Trump to the max this week with more firing (The VA Secretary), more threats (Amazon) and more late night tweets causing chaos. He is also planning to just get out of Syria (soon) and to heck with the consequences – that may be pretty messy!
From the London Times 31/3 talking about Syria:
“A US special forces commander, speaking to NBC News on condition of anonymity, said that the lack of guidance from the White House meant the campaign was “coming apart”. Another commander said: “We send memos. We tell them what is going on. I’m not sure they’re listening, or if they even know what we’re doing out here. I don’t think anyone is home right now.”
I’ll correct myself – it IS messy! But not as messy as the Trade War seems to be evolving during this week! Of course we also have the military going to the Southern Border of the US to keep the Mexicans etc. out!
And see here for worse:
Stunning reporting from the FT has informed us that China’s Xi has been stopping exports of everything to Rocket Man and till he starts to behave better – hence his supplicant visit to Bejing. Realpolitik ++++ I reckon.
In OZ the PM failed to get the company tax cut through. (Sen Storer who was elected with less than  200 votes blocked him, with strong reasons he felt!) Oh and 30 Newspolls which the Libs have lost in a row with the PM comes up next week. What fun! Labor also had a bit of a backflip after noticing a fair few non-oligarch  pensioners vote!
For contrast we have had a total breakdown in the Australian view of its national men’s cricket team and hundreds of trees have died I coverage and discussion. There is blame, angst and unhappiness all over OZ. Will be a little while before things settle down I believe. A sorry incident!
Here are a few other things I have noticed.

Major Issues.

Europe urges Australia to collaborate on warships to compete with US, China

By David Wroe
23 March 2018 — 6:41pm
Australia should consider joining a European collaboration on building advanced warships to help ensure superpowers the United States and China do not leave the rest of the world behind, Italy’s defence acquisitions chief has urged.
Lieutenant-General Carlo Magrassi raised the bombshell possibility that Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri and Britain’s BAE Systems - which are competing to build Australia’s $35 billion future frigate fleet - could actually work together.
General Magrassi said the Italian and British governments had already begun discussions on creating an “Airbus of the sea” - referring to the European multinational that makes commercial and military aircraft.

We have a bad case of misdirected compassion

25 March 2018 — 10:09pm
Why do so many of us – and the media, which so often merely reflect back the opinions of their audience – feel sorrier for those who profess to be poor than for those who really are?
Last week, on the day after the single dole was increased by 50¢ to a luxurious $273 a week ($14,190 a year), Malcolm Turnbull’s henchmen succeeded in persuading Pauline Hanson’s One Nation to let him give the down-and-out part of our one nation another kicking. (Sorry, my Salvo upbringing is showing again.)
You’ve heard the news that homelessness is much more prevalent than we thought. According to the Australian Council of Social Service, the Senate’s passing of the Orwellian Welfare "Reform" Bill will, in its first year, add to homelessness by cutting off payments to more than 80,000 people. 

Banking inquiry reveals need to get rid of incentives for selling home loans

By Jessica Irvine
25 March 2018 — 1:56pm
The list of stories from victims of bad bank behaviour, told to the bank royal commission during its first two weeks of hearings, often with overwhelming emotion, is long.
A 72-year-old widower with an acquired brain injury granted a $50,000 ANZ loan to funnel money into an online dating scam.
A 30-year-old roofer with a gambling addiction granted multiple credit card increases by the Commonwealth Bank, even after confessing his problem to a staff member.
  • Updated Mar 25 2018 at 12:15 AM

4 retirement myths you must dump now if you want to live comfortably in old age

by Chris Morcom
There is much to consider when approaching retirement. While we know planning for this life stage is crucial, misconceived notions about what's most important in retirement can significantly impact retirees' quality of life in their later years.
Unsurprisingly, it is important savers ensure the assumptions they are using about retirement are based on fact and realistic expectations, rather than myth.
Let's examine four often quoted "truths" and see whether they hold true.
  • Updated Mar 26 2018 at 11:00 PM

A bitter goodbye to the notion of public trust

A bitter goodbye to the notion of public trust in institutions in general and in political, business, religious, media and now sporting leadership.
That's often for very good reason as various abuses of that trust are constantly exposed and explored in excruciating detail.
Nor is it a made-in-Australia phenomenon – just part of a massive global cultural shift. This is driven in part by the universal accessibility of social media meaning individual complaints can now gain instant critical mass.
  • Updated Mar 26 2018 at 11:45 PM

Renewable energy out-generated brown coal and gas over summer

Renewable energy produced more electricity than brown coal over the summer for the first time, as well as out-generating gas turbines for a third year running, new analysis shows.
Power produced from wind, hydro, solar and biofuels totalled 9880 gigawatt hours (a gigawatt hour is 1000 megawatt hours) over the summer, 8 per cent greater than the output from brown coal power stations and 40 per cent greater than gas generation, Green Energy Markets' February Renewable Energy Index says.
During the crucial summer peak hours between 11am and 7pm, renewables generation averaged 5610 MW – 32 per cent greater than brown coal power output and 78 per cent greater than gas power.

Let Australians die as they want to, says Productivity Commission

By Peter Martin
26 March 2018 — 7:09pm
Tens of thousands of terminally ill Australians are dying in hospitals when they would rather be dying at home, a highly critical Productivity Commission report has found.
A wide ranging inquiry into ways to introduce competition and informed user choice into human services has found that most people want to die in surroundings that are familiar to them, surrounded by their family. Instead they are often rushed to hospital, even though it would be cheaper and more dignified to treat them where they lived.
“Aged care facilities are Commonwealth government funded and the Commonwealth considers palliative care a state funding issue, so aged care facilities receive very little funding for palliative care,” inquiry chairman Stephen King explained.

If new governments can't undo what old ones have done, what's the point of elections?

By Peter Martin
26 March 2018 — 6:56pm
If company tax cuts become law, and then Labor undoes the law, will it have exposed investors to sovereign risk?
Arguably. But no more so than the Coalition exposed investors to sovereign risk when it undid Labor’s carbon price in 2014.
Sovereign risk is an overused term for the risk that a sovereign (a government) will change the rules of a game after it has started.

We need an inquiry into ASIC - it's an embarrassment

By Michael Pascoe
27 March 2018 — 10:45am
If you want to feel heat in Townsville, sledge the Cowboys NRL side or just mention the name “Storm Financial”.
Storm was Emmanuel and Julie Cassimatis’ Townsville-based cowboy (no relation) finance outfit that destroyed the savings of thousands of clients, making the Cassimatis rich while setting poor people up to lose their homes.
Partially enabled by three banks that didn’t care where business came from as long as it came, Storm ripped out rich fees for absolutely poisonous financial advice, making outrageous promises to people who didn’t know any better.

Sydney's latte line exposes a city divided

By Nigel Gladstone
Updated 28 March 2018 — 9:01am first published at 12:01am
Sydney's north shore is now the most advantaged area in the country to live but, several inner-city and outer suburban areas have been on a very different trajectory since 2006.
Sydney is home to seven of the 10 most advantaged postcodes in Australia, excluding military bases, with Northbridge, Pymble, Seaforth, Beecroft, St Ives, Castle Cove and West Pennant Hills all rising to the top of the Index of Relative Socio-economic Advantage and Disadvantage (IRSAD). These places have all improved their rankings by more than 100 places since 2006. And none of the top 264 postcode areas has declined in these rankings since 2011 or 2006.

Parliamentary inquiry urges overhaul of country’s life insurance industry

  • The Australian
  • 2:58PM March 27, 2018

Michael Roddan

Executives in the $34 billion Australian life insurance industry would face the same tough regulations that the government foisted on badly behaved bankers, under wideranging proposals put forward after an 18-month long parliamentary investigation into the scandal-ridden sector that found bonuses and “hidden payments” led to bad advice and poorly-sold policies for customers.
Life insurers will be bracing for a raft of expensive overhauls, after the parliamentary joint committee on corporations and financial services made numerous and unanimous recommendations to reform the troubled life insurance sector, including removing the industry’s exemption from parts of consumer law, a tougher code of conduct compliance, a bundle of watchdog investigations into behaviour and greater powers for regulators.
“There are sections of the industry that can and must do better in delivering the protection they promise whilst remaining financially viable long into the future,” said Liberal MP Steve Irons, who chaired the inquiry.
  • Updated Mar 29 2018 at 7:39 AM

PIMCO's Joachim Fels sees 'beginning of the end'

by Timothy Moore
It's the "beginning of the end" of extreme monetary accommodation, at least in the US, and perhaps for the global economic expansion too, Pimco's chief global adviser says.
In an overnight blog post, Joachim Fels argues that March may prove to have been a pivotal month.
"Stormy weather was abundant in March: spring snowstorms in the northeast of the US, a trade tussle with China that could escalate into a trade war, hawkish personnel changes in the White House, a Powell-led Federal Reserve that expects to overshoot the neutral policy rate, and the worst week for US equities since January 2016," Mr Fels wrote.
  • Updated Mar 28 2018 at 4:32 PM

Corporate debt, interest rates and political uncertainty spook global markets

How's this for a toxic cocktail for global sharemarkets? Take high levels of corporate leverage, add in rising interest rates and a large dollop of political uncertainty, and it's a recipe guaranteed to shake investor confidence.
Let's take each of these ingredients in turn. Close to a year ago, the International Monetary Fund warned that US corporate debt had ballooned to levels exceeded those prevailing just before the global financial crisis, as US firms had taken advantage of ultra-low interest rates to load up on debt.
The IMF warned that elevated corporate debt levels could cause problems down the track, as the US central bank continued to push short-term interest rates higher. But the warning went completely unheeded, as easy credit conditions spurred a fresh round of corporate debt raising in 2017.

Competition isn't as wonderful as it's cracked up to be

31 March 2018
The banking royal commission has many sub-plots. Did you notice the one where a couple of the banks blamed their decisions to keep doing things they knew were dodgy on the pressure of competition?
A chap from Westpac didn’t argue when one of the inquiry’s barristers criticised it for paying “flex commissions” to car dealers arranging loans for people buying cars. The higher the interest rate the dealers could get their customers to accept, the higher the (undisclosed) commission Westpac paid them.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has decided to prohibit this practice from November. So why was Westpac persisting with it until then? Because, if it simply stopped doing it off its own bat, it would lose most of its business to competitors.

Trench warfare over taxes takes its toll on nation’s economic prospects

  • The Australian
  • 12:00AM March 31, 2018

Paul Kelly

This week the Turnbull government came to the edge of its biggest victory since the 2016 election — but after tasting the hot breath of success it was consigned to the “cooler”, the upshot being that substantial tax reform must become the dominant theme of the May budget.
Bill Shorten had a hefty win, its potential hardly appreciated. Labor should dispatch its champagne to the newest senator, independent Tim Storer, who stayed with Labor and blocked passage of the 10-year $36 billion company tax cut, the centrepiece of Turnbull government policy.
Shorten declares Labor opposes the tax package now, will fight it as a Turnbull promise at the next election and, if it does become law, repeal it from office. Sounds brave — but repealing a legislated tax cut is never easy when that involves the entire Australian big business sector with the prospect of wage rises for employees in the down-the-track pipeline.

Decline and fall of the modern political class

  • The Australian
  • 12:00AM March 31, 2018

Peter Van Onselen

It’s hard to get too excited about modern politics. With the rise of China and the skulduggery of Russia, preserving democracy has rarely been more important — yet, domestically, few Australians are impressed by the politicians who serve them.
The policy arguments tend to be transactional or largely administrative, rather than represent bold philosophical differences. As a nation we seem to have lost the capacity to reform holistically, much less debate ideas without partisan dividing lines forming instantaneously.
The personalities who once went into politics have been replaced by careerists who seek to avoid doing anything controversial that may limit their potential. This is a consequence of the professionalisation of major party politics. The era of the mass party driven by large party memberships is over, replaced by professional administrators and parliamentarians whose first goal is winning elections. Ideas, especially those that are right but unpopular, come last.

National Budget Issues.

Tax concessions for wealthy reach $68 billion, analysis finds

By Peter Martin
25 March 2018 — 6:29pm
Tax concessions for the richest fifth of the population cost the budget $68 billion a year, a new analysis commissioned by Anglicare finds.
The subsidies covered negative gearing, superannuation and capital gains tax, discretionary trusts and exemptions from the goods and services tax for private health and education.
The report, The Cost of Privilege, to be released on Monday, puts the cost shouldered by each worker at $37 a week, a figure it compares with $6 a week imposed by the Newstart unemployment benefit.
  • Mar 27 2018 at 9:01 AM

Labor confirms it will repeal company tax cuts

Labor has confirmed it will repeal the government's company tax cuts if passed by the Senate this week or some other time before the election.
With the government still trying to secure the final two Senate crossbench votes to pass legislation for the remainder of the package, Opposition leader Bill Shorten and shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said Labor would fight the issue all the way to the election.
Labor, if elected, would repeal the remainder of the package which would cut the tax rate from 30 per cent to 25 per cent for all companies by 2026-27. This is worth $35 billion over a decade.

Labor redesigns its tax policy to spare pensioners

LABOR’S plan to scrap a tax rebate could save $59 billion but it was branded a “cruel slug”. Today, Labor will rejig the policy just two weeks after its initial release.
March 27, 2018 12:00am
LABOR today will overhaul its two-week old policy to end cash tax rebates on business investments with special provisions exempting pensioners.
The move was needed to counter a Government campaign depicting the pledge to abolish the refunds on dividend imputation as a heavy-handed swipe at retirees’ finances.
The partial retreat will encourage the Government to intensify its campaign against what Treasurer Scott Morrison called “Labor’s cruel retiree tax”, in part by charging that the changes will make the tax system more complicated and increase unequal treatment.

Holdouts stall Coalition on company tax cuts

  • The Australian
  • 12:00AM March 28, 2018

Ben Packham

Malcolm Turnbull’s big-ticket economic reform has suffered a setback after he failed to secure enough crossbench votes to push his company tax cuts through the Senate this week.
Senate leader Mathias Cormann yesterday conceded the government “will need to do some more work” to get the two more votes it needs, and said the ­Enterprise Tax Plan Bill would be shelved until budget week.
The admission followed Bill Shorten’s confirmation that Labor would go to the election promising to repeal the tax cuts if they were passed, and the launch of a Business Council of Australia campaign to combat “anti-­business forces”.
  • Updated Mar 28 2018 at 11:19 AM

Malcolm Turnbull, Scott Morrison on track for early budget surplus

The improvement in Australia's fiscal deficit, which credit rating agency Standard & Poor's has forecast would be much worse than Malcolm Turnbull expected, has been quite remarkable.
When the government released its official budget estimates in May 2017, it projected an underlying cash deficit of $29.4 billion for the 2018 financial year.
S&P panned this projection as being way too optimistic in respect of its wages growth and commodity price assumptions, the government's ability to pass savings through the senate, and hence overall revenues and expenses.

Tim Storer: the hole in the government's tax cut plan

By Mark Kenny
28 March 2018 — 3:57pm
Who killed it? Was it the Hinchpin, the Staller, maybe both? It’s a moot point because the government’s benighted five cents in the dollar tax cut for corporate Australia, was strategically pulled, never put to a vote.
As the Coalition licks its wounds and plots a return to battle post-budget, attention has swung to an unknown rookie senator from South Australia, Tim Storer, who along with his red-carpet confrere Derryn Hinch, frustrated a pre-Easter resurrection of the government's fortunes.
A former broadcaster famously jailed for his convictions, Hinch is as recognisable as anyone in Canberra - fitting given his alternative tag as “the human headline”.

Bank funding costs spark rate hike fears

By Clancy Yeates
30 March 2018 — 3:30pm
A key gauge of bank funding costs has jumped to its highest level since the euro zone sovereign debt crisis of 2011, squeezing profit margins and sparking debate over whether lenders may respond by hiking mortgage interest rates.
Since the start of the year, changes in an arcane but important part of the global financial markets have pushed up banks' costs of wholesale debt, which is a vital source of funding for Australian lenders.
Similar trends have resulted in banks jacking up interest rates on home loans in the past, and Suncorp pointed to funding costs when it lifted mortgage rates earlier this month.

Seven charts revealing the truth about wages and the Australian economy

By Jessica Irvine & Adam Gartrell
30 March 2018 — 11:45pm
The war over wages has begun.
Television screens are already ablaze with union-funded ads portraying the perils of insecure work. Soon, corporate Australia will strike back, with an advertising blitz against "anti-business forces", highlighting the job-creating virtues of a thriving business sector.
Having failed to secure the two crucial Senate votes needed to pass legislation to cut the company tax rate from 30 per cent to 25 per cent for large businesses, the Turnbull government has vowed to try again after the May budget. It maintains that company tax cuts hold the key to higher wages: companies will hire more people, competition for workers will increase and pay rates will naturally go up.
But Labor has backed away from its previous support for cutting the company tax rate, promising instead to prioritise budget repair and repeal any cut for big business. It argues any reduction will overwhelmingly benefit executives and shareholders rather than ordinary workers.

Health Budget Issues.

NSW government pledges nearly $500 million for Nepean Hospital redevelopment

By James Robertson
25 March 2018 — 12:06pm
The state government committed nearly half-a-billion dollars to a major redevelopment of an overstretched western Sydney emergency department, as both parties geared up their campaigns for western Sydney votes one year out from the state election.
Intensive care doctors had warned in recent years that Nepean Hospital, in the key marginal seat of Penrith, was at “crisis point” and the state of the emergency department has been credited as delivering key swings to Labor at the 2016 federal election.
But on Sunday Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced the government would spend $450 million on Stage 2 of the hospital’s redevelopment, following a $575 million first stage development, which, the government says, will already deliver 200 beds.

Doctors name and shame health insurers as profits and complaints soar

By Adam Gartrell
Updated 26 March 2018 — 8:20am first published at 12:01am
Doctors have exposed the best and worst private health insurers in a new report card that shows the major funds are continuing to grow their profits even as policy exclusions spread and customer complaints soar.
The Australian Medical Association is also sounding the alarm over changes being pursued by some of the biggest funds - most notably Bupa - which it says will curb patient choice and further undermine public trust in the industry.
In its latest annual look at the private health insurance industry, the AMA ranks eight of Australia's top funds on the basis of the benefits they pay for 21 of the most common hospital-based procedures - including colonoscopies, hip and knee replacements, breast biopsies and heart bypass surgery.

Diabetes, cancer and arthritis sufferers to benefit from new subsidies

By Adam Gartrell
25 March 2018 — 2:11pm
The cost of medicines to treat diabetes, cancer, arthritis, asthma and eye disease will be slashed next week under a massive new round of Turnbull government subsidies.
The government will add 11 drugs to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme on April 1, saving Australian patients thousands of dollars, Health Minister Greg Hunt says.
The focus of the listings is a range of new and improved treatments for diabetes, a disease that afflicts up to 1.7 million Australians, with 280 new cases every day.

Australian Medical Association defends secret fee list

The AMA is defending its use of a list that suggests fees for thousands of procedures at a cost greater than Medicare recommends.
25 March, 2018
Australia's peak GP group has defended a secret list that recommends specialists charge more than the Medicare fee, saying successive governments and insurers "must take their share of the blame".
The Australian Medical Association's List of Services and Fees is provided to members at a cost and is also available to others who purchase the book every year, president Michael Gannon said on Sunday.
The charges - some up to 10 times more than Medicare recommends - cover everything from births to replacement hip and knee surgeries, as well as cancer treatments.

Doctors body slam Bupa hospital change

The Australian Medical Association has singled out Bupa in its latest public health insurance report card, criticising its recent gap changes.
Jennifer Jennings
Australian Associated Press March 26, 20187:13am
Doctors are worried recent changes by Bupa will leave hospital patients with higher out of pocket costs.
Revealing its latest annual report card on private health insurance, the Australian Medical Association singled out the insurer's new gap cover arrangements.
The insurer will now only be providing maximum benefits for patients in hospitals with Bupa contracts, AMA President Michael Gannon said on Monday.

FSC ‘didn’t consult experts on genetic plan’

  • The Australian
  • 12:00AM March 26, 2018

Michael Roddan

The Financial Services Council ignored warnings from genetics experts and failed to consult with the peak body for genetics professionals in Australia before announcing plans to create a life insurance industry body to lobby government on the use of genetic testing.
Documents obtained by The Australian reveal Dr Michael Buckley, president of the Human Genetics Society of Australasia was “yet to receive any communication regarding the establishment of a Genetics and Insurance Advisory Council” after Financial Services Council chief executive Sally Loane made the announcement at the lobby group’s life insurance conference in Sydney on Wednesday.
It comes as an 18-month long parliamentary joint committee inquiry into the scandal-ridden life insurance sector is about to table its findings and recommendations. The report is expected to make unanimous recommendations about the use of genetic testing in the life insurance sector.

Private health insurance patients not getting value for money from complex policies: AMA

Posted 26 March, 2018 at 6:27pm
The Australian Medical Association has delivered a grim view of the nation's private health insurance providers, saying falling membership rates and rising premiums are threatening the viability of the entire health system.
The AMA handed down the assessment in its latest annual report card on private health cover.
AMA president Michael Gannon said patients were not getting value for money and were being left confused by unnecessarily complex policies that often did not provide an acceptable level of cover.

Bupa accused of threatening private health insurance reforms

AMA says company’s plan to restrict gap cover to its approved hospitals ‘has the potential to remove patient choice’
Changes to private health insurance policies announced by Bupa could sabotage the federal government’s attempts to reform the industry, the peak medical body says.
On Monday the Australian Medical Association released its private health insurance report card and took particular aim at Bupa for telling members they would qualify for gap cover only if they were treated in a Bupa-approved hospital or medical centre. When a procedure is not carried out in a contracted facility or under certain public hospital criteria, Bupa will only pay the 25% of the Medicare benefits schedule towards the doctor’s fee – the minimum amount required by law to pay. It will mean higher out-of-pocket costs for patients.
 “Bupa’s change will have significant consequences for doctors and for the hospital where they treat their patients, and may make it difficult for the patient to choose the hospital that best suits them,” the AMA report said.

Rising health insurance premiums “threatening the viability of the entire health system”

AMA delivers its Private Health Insurance Report Card 2018.

If continuing health insurance premiums increases are not addressed, Australians will continue to ditch their cover and threaten the viability of the entire health system, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) has warned with the release of the Private Health Insurance Report Card 2018.
AMA president Dr Michael Gannon said that while affordability is important, the value of health insurance is critical to consumers who are confused by complex products "many with low benefits, differing definitions, exclusions, and restrictions."
“There are also a lot of policies on the market that will not provide the cover that consumers expect when they need it,” Dr Gannon said in a statement.

New strategy to future-proof nation’s health workforce

  • The Australian
  • 11:03AM March 27, 2018

Sean Parnell

A new federal government strategy will seek to future-proof the nation’s health workforce, amid concerns medical graduates will struggle to find jobs as long as Australia continues to rely on overseas-trained doctors and restricts specialist numbers.
Rural Health Minister Bridget McKenzie yesterday acknowledged maldistribution of the workforce was a key challenge, particularly in regional and remote areas, but insisted plans were in place to address underlying supply issues.
“A health workforce strategy is being developed which will take a long-term view of health workforce needs, considering measures to ensure the health system remains efficient and sustainable in the longer term,” Senator McKenzie said.

Medical students urge withdrawal of support from Murray Darling Medical School proposal

  • The Australian
  • 11:21AM March 26, 2018

Sean Parnell

Medical students want the Turnbull government to halt the increase in university places while there are bottlenecks in intern and specialist training.
While the doctor shortage could soon be over, there are still distribution issues in rural areas and some specialties, partly due to Australia’s complex and conflicted training system.
The Australian at the weekend revealed thousands of graduates were at risk of being locked out of specialist colleges. The colleges responsible for ophthalmology and orthopaedics have been particularly slow to train more specialists, despite long waiting lists and high out-of-pocket expenses.

Govt introduces private healthcare reforms

Health Minister Greg Hunt says a suite of private health insurance reforms introduced by the government will protect the future of Australia's health system.
Karen Sweeney
Australian Associated Press March 28, 201810:50am
A suite of private health insurance reforms will help Australia maintain a strong and competitive private sector and protect the health system, Health Minister Greg Hunt says.
The government introduced a series of reforms to parliament on Wednesday that includes allowing discounts for hospital coverage for people under 30, increasing the strength of the health insurance ombudsman and letting private health insurers cover travel and accommodation costs for rural and regional Australians attending health services.
"These reforms will therefore help strengthen the viability of the private health system by addressing concerns about affordability, complexity and lack of transparency of private health insurance," Mr Hunt said.

Bush doctor shortage in the spotlight, Turnbull government says

  • The Australian
  • 11:03AM March 28, 2018

Sean Parnell

Health officials are working on a new method of assessing the impact of doctor shortages in the bush, as the Turnbull government promises a long-term strategy to solve workforce problems.
While the number of medical graduates is increasing, there are serious challenges getting doctors into some areas and training programs for specialist positions. That has left Australia heavily reliant on overseas-trained doctors, while patients face long waits and high gap fees depending on where they live or what condition they have.
The Australian has learned the Department of Health has embarked on a new mapping project for GPs, separate to the District of Workforce Shortage measured used to determine, among other things, where overseas-trained doctors are allowed to work.

Health Care Homes roll out 'went wrong somewhere' says reform architect

But he still backs the policy as the best hope for future of general practice
27th March 2018
Dr Steve Hambleton is a strong believer in the benefits of Health Care Homes to general practice.
The architect of the Health Care Home reforms admits the “implementation went wrong somewhere”, after the dramatic loss of support from GP groups.
Under the trial launched last year, nearly 200 GPs practices have been attempting to sign up 65,000 patients in return for annual block funding to manage chronic conditions.

Health insurance cost pain after rules glitch

  • The Australian
  • 12:00AM March 29, 2018

Sean Parnell

Private health insurance premiums will climb and thousands of members will need legal protection from unexpected tax debts, after an extraordinary ­11-year misinterpretation of ­insurance rules.
As Health Minister Greg Hunt yesterday introduced legislation for the first tranche of the Turnbull government insurance reforms, The Australian discovered the urgent need for further amendments to allow for policies with non-compliant benefit restrictions as far back as 2007.
Twelve insurers still offering such policies have been ordered to withdraw them from the market by July 1. While that will mandate a higher level of cover for members with conditions such as mental illness, obesity and joint deterioration, it will come at a cost, contributing to higher premiums from next year.

Medibank scraps wait for mental health help

  • The Australian
  • 12:00AM March 29, 2018

Sarah-Jane Tasker

Australian insurance giant Medibank is boosting its offering for mental health services as government reforms are introduced across the sector.
From next month, insured Australians who upgrade their health policy to include mental health services will not have to endure a waiting period before accessing in-hospital treatment under the reforms.
Medibank chief customer officer David Koczkar said the insurer had decided to go a step further than the reforms and also remove the two-month waiting period on psychology services on its current extras products.

Health insurance premiums to rise a little, then a lot

  • The Australian
  • 12:00AM March 31, 2018

Sean Parnell

Health insurance premiums will rise an average 3.95 per cent ­tomorrow but larger increases will come next year as the industry overhauls its business in the hope members will settle on a ­policy long-term.
While Health Minister Greg Hunt proclaimed this year’s average rise as a positive outcome of the reform process — and the lowest in 17 years — the government will be unable to hold back larger increases next year.
Health costs will keep rising yet a reorganisation of policies is likely to have the biggest impact, with insurers expecting members to review their new premiums, and coverage levels, and respond in a way that stabilises the ­industry.
The proportion of Australians with hospital cover fell to 45.6 per cent in the December quarter amid concerns over high premiums, confusing policies and unexpected out-of-pocket costs.

International Issues.

Welcome to the Dick Cheney Administration

The problem with John Bolton isn’t that he’s an extremist. It's that he’s mainstream.

By Stephen M. Walt
March 23, 2018, 10:34 AM
The other shoe dropped. On the heels of his cowardly fire-by-tweet dismissal of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Donald Trump has dismissed National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster and replaced him with John Bolton, the hard-line former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Uber-hawk Mike Pompeo is headed from the CIA to the State Department, and Gina Haspel, a CIA loyalist who ran a torture site for George W. Bush and authorized the destruction of videotapes documenting what the CIA was doing, has been picked to replace him. Just how scared should you be?
There seem to be two general reactions to the latest upheaval in Trump’s topsy-turvy. One interpretation is that this latest reshuffle amounts to Trump getting rid of the “grown-ups” who have been trying to manage the tweeter-in-chief for the past year and replacing them with advisors who see the world as he does and will let “Trump be Trump.” In this view, the new team will enable him instead of trying to rein him in, and he’ll become the Trump of 2016, who called U.S. foreign policy a “complete and total disaster” and promised “America First.” Trump himself has encouraged this view by suggesting that he is finally assembling the sort of team he has always wanted. (Which raises an obvious question: Who was the idiot who picked his first team? Or his second? Oh, right.)

Trump's new bellicose team demands the world bend to US demands

By David Sanger
25 March 2018 — 12:35pm
Washington: The incoming national security adviser has called for the "swift takeover" of North Korea by the South. He and the newly nominated secretary of state have urged withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. The pick for CIA director once oversaw interrogations in which terrorism suspects were tortured.
The two generals celebrated by President Donald Trump for their reputations for toughness are now considered the moderates — and at risk of falling out of favour.
Once rejected by North Korea as "human scum", US President Donald Trump's latest pick for national security adviser has called for regime change in North Korea.
  • Updated Mar 25 2018 at 1:37 PM

Even Steve Bannon says that Trumponomics just don't add up

Of all the diabolical assessments about a US-China trade war, perhaps the best insight came from President Donald Trump's former chief strategist Steve Bannon.
The economic nationalist Bannon unsurprisingly lauded Trump's proposed tariffs on China and praised the recent $US1.5 trillion Republican tax cuts, in an appearance at the FT Future of News conference in New York on Friday.
Yet it was the next remark by Bannon, a former Goldman Sachs banker who has a good grasp of finance and economics despite his protectionist desires, that should give pause for thought.
  • Updated Mar 24 2018 at 3:33 AM

China could slow US Treasury purchases to counter Trump's tariffs

by Andrew Mayeda
China's ambassador to the US wouldn't rule out the possibility of the Asian nation scaling back purchases of Treasuries in response to tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump.
"We are looking at all options," Ambassador Cui Tiankai told Bloomberg Television, when asked whether China would consider reduced purchases of US government debt. "That's why we believe any unilateral and protectionist move would hurt everybody, including the United States itself. It would certainly hurt the daily life of American middle-class people, and the American companies, and the financial markets."
China is America's biggest foreign creditor. It held $US1.17 trillion in Treasuries as of January, or about 19 per cent of all foreign holdings of US government securities.

'No more' or we vote you out: students lead huge US anti-gun rallies

By Ian Simpson & Katanga Johnson
25 March 2018 — 11:31am
Washington:  Chanting "never again," hundreds of thousands of young Americans and their supporters answered a call to action from survivors of last month's Florida high school massacre and rallied across the country on Saturday to demand tighter gun laws.
At least half-a-million Americans are rallying nationwide on tighter gun laws in “March For Our Lives” protests led by survivors of the Florida school massacre, and sympathetic protests are being held worldwide.
In some of the biggest US youth demonstrations for decades, protesters in cities across the country called on politicians and President Donald Trump to confront the issue. Voter registration activists fanned out in the crowds, signing up thousands of the nation's newest voters.

Australia to expel two 'undeclared intelligence officers' as part of global action against Russia

By Fergus Hunter
27 March 2018 — 8:20am
The Turnbull government will expel two Russian officials from Australia, joining more than a dozen British allies in a global response to the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter.
The nerve agent attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Britain has deepened the rift between the Russian government and western powers, with the Trump administration on Monday night announcing the expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats and intelligence officers.
The United States expelled 48 officials from the Russian embassy in Washington and 12 from Russia's permanent mission to the United Nations in New York, and ordered the closure of the consulate in Seattle. Canada and many European Union countries have joined the action.

US credibility another Syrian casualty

By Peter Hartcher
26 March 2018 — 10:12pm
The fate of Syria's Bashar al-Assad, one of the great butchers of the modern era, is no longer in any doubt. Seven years after Barack Obama demanded that Assad resign, six years after he declared Assad's use of chemical weapons would be a "red line", and four years after the UN stopped trying to keep count of the dead, Assad is secure.
The World Bank estimates that more than 400,000 people have died in Syria's civil war, making it the deadliest war of the 21st century so far. The fighting sent 6 million civilians in search of refuge elsewhere within Syria and drove another 5 million abroad.
Today, Assad's army is mopping up the remaining pockets of anti-government resistance. There remains only one rebel-held holdout near Damascus, the capital, and it has now been broken. Over the weekend, 77 buses took many of the last rebel fighters out of Eastern Ghouta in a negotiated surrender.

UK to fight back against Russia in information war

By Kate McCann and Ben Farmer
28 March 2018 — 9:38am
London: Britain will launch a counter-propaganda war against the Russians and terrorists in an overhaul of security capabilities announced by Theresa May on Tuesday night.
The Prime Minister has instructed the intelligence services to use social media to disrupt misinformation as she promised to use "every capability at our disposal" to defeat the new threat facing the country.
As well as increased Russian aggression, sources warned that the Islamist terror threat was likely to rise in the next two years as Mrs May announced a new effort to ensure every government agency and department makes national security a priority, rather than just the police and security services.

Confirmed: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited China

By David Stanway
28 March 2018 — 10:50am
Seoul: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has met Chinese President Xi Jinping during a visit to China this week, China's state news agency Xinhua reports.
The visit was Kim's first known journey abroad since he assumed power in 2011 and is believed by analysts to serve as preparation for upcoming summits with South Korea and the United States.
The report did not say whether the two sides discussed North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Six signs China wants to avoid a trade war

By Qing Shan Ding
27 March 2018 — 11:35am
The Trump administration’s announcement that it will impose up to $US60 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports has led to fears of a trade war brewing between the two countries. In response, China said it is preparing retaliatory tariffs on 128 US products, amounting to US$3 billion of goods.
Yet there is reason to believe that this is not a battle that China wants to fight. Numerous signals at the recent “two sessions” gathering of China’s national legislature, the National People’s Congress (NPC) and its top political advisory body, Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), made evident China’s desire to keep its economy open.
As an authoritarian state, the press conference at the end of this important annual gathering provides a rare glimpse into the inner thinking of its political leadership. Much of the focus this year was on the president, Xi Jinping, who scrapped presidential term limits. But there were also some important announcements when it came to China’s economy, with strong commitments made to opening itself to trade with the rest of world.
  • Updated Mar 30 2018 at 5:32 AM

Russia to expel 150 Western diplomats, close US consulate

by Richard Perez-Pena
Intensifying Russia's clash with Europe and the United States, the Kremlin announced that it would expel 150 Western diplomats, and close the US Consulate in St. Petersburg.
The tit-for-tat action was in retaliation for the expulsion of more than 150 Russian officials from other countries, which was itself a reaction to a nerve-agent attack on British soil that Britain and its allies have blamed on Moscow.
The US ambassador to Russia, Jon M. Huntsman Jr., was summoned to the Kremlin, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced. Sixty US diplomats will be expelled from Russia - the same as the number of Russian diplomats whom Washington has expelled.

'Causing tremendous loss': Donald Trump escalates attack on Amazon

By Lisa Lambert
30 March 2018 — 7:18am
President Donald Trump took another shot at Amazon.com Thursday, tweeting that the online retailer pays "little or no taxes" and that it uses the US Postal Service as "their Delivery Boy."
Trump's frustrations with Amazon are no surprise. He has accused the company of not paying enough taxes before, and in December tweeted that the US Postal Service should charge Amazon more for delivering packages. His latest missive comes a day after Axios reported that Trump has wondered aloud if there was a way to "go after" Amazon with antitrust or competition law.
Badly beaten tech shares, including Amazon, bounced back as President Donald Trump blasted the online retail giant in tweet.

The doctor is in: Trump picks his physician to lead veterans department

30 March 2018 — 3:36am
Washington: After firing Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, US President Donald Trump has nominated his White House doctor to replace him following a bruising ethics scandal and a mounting rebellion within the agency.
Trump had been considering replacing Shulkin, a former Obama administration official and the first non-veteran to head the VA, for weeks but had not been known to be considering Jackson.
In a statement, Trump praised Jackson as "highly trained and qualified". It was a decision that signalled Trump chose to go with someone he knows and trusts, rather than choosing a candidate with a longer resume, to run a massive agency facing huge bureaucratic challenges.

Pope, in Holy Thursday prison visit, says death penalty not Christian

By Philip Pullella
30 March 2018 — 6:09am
Rome: Pope Francis washed and kissed the feet of 12 prison inmates, including two Muslims and a Buddhist, in a Holy Thursday ritual and said the death penalty should be abolished because it is neither Christian nor humane.
For the sixth year running, the pope held the ritual in an institution rather than in the splendours of the Vatican or a Rome basilica, as his predecessors did. Conservatives have criticised him for including women and non-Christians in the rite in the past.
He visited Rome's Regina Coeli (Queen of Heaven) jail in the centre of city, to perform the rite recalling Jesus' gesture of humility towards his 12 apostles on the night before he died.

'We will all end up paying for this': Russians resent Cold War redux

By Nick Miller
29 March 2018 — 9:45am
London: It may be fair, but it feels cruel.
With more than 100 Russian "diplomats" getting the shove from 27 embassies around the world, many ordinary Russians are furious at, and bewildered by, the world’s governments turning against them.
They say they don’t believe Russia poisoned ex-spy Sergei Skripal.
This is clearly wishful thinking, or evidence of omission, disinformation or distortion by Russian media. The case against Russia, as set out by the UK’s Foreign Office, is convincing, if circumstantial.
  • Mar 31 2018 at 11:03 AM

Donald Trump privately wants US out of Syria 'very soon'

by Robert Burns and Jonathan Lemire
President Donald Trump's unscripted remark this week about pulling out of Syria "very soon," while at odds with his own policy, was not a one-off: For weeks, top advisers have been fretting about an overly hasty withdrawal as the president has increasingly told them privately he wants out, US officials said.
Only two months ago, Trump's aides thought they'd persuaded him that the US needed to keep its presence in Syria open-ended – not only because the Islamic State group has yet to be entirely defeated, but also because the resulting power vacuum could be filled by other extremist groups or by Iran. Trump signed off on major speech in January in which Secretary of State Rex Tillerson laid out the new strategy and declared "it is vital for the United States to remain engaged in Syria."
But by mid-February, Trump was telling his top aides in meetings that as soon as victory can be declared against IS, he wanted American troops out of Syria, said the officials. Alarm bells went off at the State Department and the Pentagon, where officials have been planning for a gradual, methodical shift from a military-led operation to a diplomatic mission to start rebuilding basic infrastructure like roads and sewers in the war-wracked country.

Melania Trump takes refuge from affair headlines at Palm Beach

1 April 2018 — 2:08am
Florida: Spring break couldn't have come at a better time for Melania Trump.
With fresh details spilling into the headlines daily about how Donald Trump allegedly cheated on her early in their marriage, the former model escaped the intense glare by spending the past week at the family's estate in Palm Beach, Florida, with their 12-year-old son, Barron.
The adult-film actress who claims she had sex with Donald Trump before he was president alleged that she had been threatened in 2011 while in a parking lot with her infant daughter to discourage her from discussing the relationship.
But even then, there was no perfect refuge from the attention to recent legal activity related to the president's past conduct with women.

Enough is enough: The message to Russia is clear, but it’s not over yet

By David Wroe
30 March 2018 — 10:08pm
It was in the hectic midst of the ASEAN conference in Sydney a fortnight ago that Julie Bishop first discussed with her British counterpart, Boris Johnson, the prospect of expelling Russian spies.
Bishop and Johnson had spoken by phone three days earlier after British leader Theresa May stood in the House of Commons and called out the Kremlin over the nerve agent attack on British soil.
Then on the Saturday in Sydney, Johnson flagged in a text message conversation with Bishop Britain’s intention to muster a coalition of countries that would send Moscow a loud signal over the attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal. May and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull also spoke that weekend.

Fake news and the resurgence of authoritarian leaders

By James Massola
30 March 2018 — 4:08pm
Jakarta: Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak's decision to introduce a new law banning "fake news" has been lambasted by the opposition, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia and civil society groups as a crackdown on free speech.
The government compromised a little this week by reducing the maximum proposed prison sentence from ten years to six, but the draconian law will be legislated just before Najib announces the date of general elections, due in a matter of weeks.
Singapore, too, is looking at how it can crack down on so-called fake news and in Indonesia, the recently passed "MD3 law" can allow an MP to press charges against someone who criticises the Parliament, or a member of the Parliament. MD3 is already being challenged by civil society groups.

Leninists with nukes pose new risks to global peace

  • Peter Jennings
  • The Australian
  • 12:00AM March 31, 2018
No one really saw this coming but this year will be remembered as when Leninist autocracies returned to threaten global peace.
Vladimir Putin in Russia and Xi Jinping in China have consolidated their personal hold on power, turning what were already vicious and corrupt one-party states into countries led by the cult of a single personality.
Stoking populist nationalism for support, Putin and Xi are on a high-stakes gamble that rejects the international rule of law cherished by Western politicians and diplomats. They are out to reshape the global order by bluff, threat and the use of force if necessary, to build stronger international influence for Russia and China. If the gamble pays off, Putin and Xi could lead their countries for another decade or longer, essentially as personal fiefdoms where no view other than theirs can survive under the tight surveillance of repressive political systems.
I look forward to comments on all this!


Trevor3130 said...

Broadcast from ADHA
@AuDigitalHealth 21h21 hours ago
A warm thank you to CEO & Associate Professor Chris Carter & staff from North Western #Melbourne Primary Health Network (#NWMPHN) - another great #DigitalHealth meeting today w/ @AuDigitalHealth's CEO @tkelsey1 & Clinical Professor @MeredithMakeham, Chief Medical Adviser

Elsewhere backdropped by HeadSpace.
I hope they haven't been sucked into the World Well-Being Project (WWBP), which was mentioned as collaborator with Cambridge Analytica's dredging of Facebook data.

But the revelations should also prompt us to ask deeper questions about the kind of behavioral science research that enables both governments and private companies to assume these powers. Two young psychologists are central to the Cambridge Analytica story. One is Michal Kosinski, who devised an app with a Cambridge University colleague, David Stillwell, that measures personality traits by analyzing Facebook “likes.” It was then used in collaboration with the World Well-Being Project, a group at the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center that specializes in the use of big data to measure health and happiness in order to improve well-being. ...

I'd like to see Tim Kelsey's phone & email logs.

Anonymous said...

A FOI request would give you those it would be unclassified information