Let’s talk about the Medicare Co-payment proposal…

The co-payment proposal was part of a paper (please refer to the first link at the bottom) prepared by the ACHR’s (Australian Centre for Health research) and Terry Barnes, the former adviser of Tony Abbott when he was the Health Minister and the Leader of the Opposition. The ACHR is a think tank funded by private health funds and private hospitals. It’s to be noted that Mr Barnes has also called for emergency department co-payments as well as GP co-payments.

Let’s recall some of the controversy when Mr Abbott was the Health Minister. There was the opposition of the abortion drug RU486 which lead to a parliamentary conscious vote to strip him of his power to regulate this area of policy. And his opposition to the anti-cervical drug Gardasil meant that he had to be ultimately over-ruled by John Howard. It has become very clear that this government is very much ruled by their ideology which has always been against universal healthcare. Instead seemingly content to attempt to convince us the 1.5% Medicare levy makes it free. The levy was raised to 2% in July 2014 by the ALP and with bipartisan support to cover the formerly known National Disability Scheme (NDIS), it’s not a hidden cost that many seem to think because of confusing messages and the three month narrative from our Government about their budget.

We subsidise the private health industry on average by 30% and up to 45% for over 65 year old’s. A private health insurance premium rise was approved by Health Minister Peter Dutton with an industry average of 6.2% and a high of 7.99% with NIB in December last year. This was the highest increase since 2005 with all 34 providers applying for fee increases. HCF and Medibank private already offer subsidised GP services and Bupa offers quite a few no out-of-pocket expenses. Could the increase be to cover the ‘additional services’ they will offer competing with  Medicare? Private healthcare Australia chief executive Dr Armitage (former LNP South Australian health minister) has been quoted as saying that allowing insurers to cover GP services would provide a “marvellous boon for preventative health care”, incidentally he now lobbies on behalf of insurers. Below is part of his seemingly nervous statement on the Commission of Audit report (COA) –

“The Private Health Insurance Industry would be very keen to see the figures on which the Commission has based its conclusions about important matters (such as totally changing the health landscape for higher income Australians) before any meaningful analysis of the report’s recommendations can be made.”

“The Industry notes that the Commission has identified the Government’s commitment to restore the Private Health Insurance rebate.”

There is perhaps merit in trials being done with WA & Victorian Governments that Mr Armitage mentioned regarding registered nurses with GP support and helping people with complex health needs, stay out of hospital. But I can find very little detail on this. What I have noticed is the rise of pathology and diagnostic imaging services.

You also know there is money to be made when Woolworth’s gets in on the action, when ‘free health checks’ to be performed by pharmacy students, graduating pharmacists and nurses in the supermarket aisles, was reported in the media. They are already trialling it in six stores in NSW and QLD. Of course the Pharmacy Guild of Australia is not pleased at the attempt to enter the pharmacy market of which the Government has reconfirmed it’s commitment, to not allow the retail giants entry. Would you call that free marketing, favoured by the likes of Rupert Murdoch and the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA)?

This all leads me to the conclusion that the co-payment proposal is an attempt to let Australia’s health care system be taken over by insurers and their idea of free marketing which does not translate to health and medicine. We have seen the American health system in tatters over the very same attempts to equate health with profit.

And as for the much mooted by Joe Hockey Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF)? How does that work when there have been massive cuts to Science and Research or the fact that we don’t have a Minister for Science? How does it keep Medicare ‘sustainable’ as is being continually said by Mr Abbott, Dutton and Hockey via main stream media?

For some perspective, America gave it’s Medical Research $30bn in 2013, Europe collectively gave $28bn and Japan $9bn. Australia gave just over $850mil to National Health and Medical Research (NHMR) in 2012. It seems as though Mr Hockey would like to leave a legacy but may be best to come up with your own ideas instead of pinching from the UK in this example with their ‘Wellcome Trust’ which is for Research Funding and Charitable activists.

User-pay policies won’t work for health and medicine in the same way as it doesn’t for using fire-fighter/emergency services or getting into your MP’s ear. Most Aussies I know are happy for all us to share the cost and having that piece of mind that it won’t come down to ‘It’s your money or your life’ if something happens to you. That is the unpredictability of it, there are just too may variables. I would suggest stop wasting anymore time and put it to a referendum, ask us what we want our taxes to pay for and if we are willing to pay, as I think you would be surprised. I think a healthy nation will only be more productive especially with Mr Hockey’s global growth targets. All it might take is raising the Medicare levy until more comprehensive Health reform is achieved.

Links of interest for you…

GP Co-payment paper by Terry Barnes

Mr Armitage’s nervous statement on the COA

Murdoch on Abbott’s grasp of the free market

A Nation built on the Fair Go and something Special



Misinformation in the Information Age…

I have been experiencing more and more people questioning and trying to read between the lines of a bloated media industry obsessed with shock jockism.

When people take to the streets and become citizen journalists, you know something is up. All the signs are there if we read between the lines and cut out the main stream media white noise. Because that is all it is, break it down and think about why certain things are reported and are some are not?

For instance the young man killed in America yesterday, from all accounts so far he was shot 10 times and was unarmed and posed no threat. This is not unusual for the USA sadly. However what I have noted, is that there seems to be a groundswell of discontent emanating from our American brothers and sisters.

Social media is so important, quite simply our voices get to be heard. Whether they are wrong or right, they all are allowed to be heard in a democratic society. I think that’s what George Brandis was trying to get at with his infamous bigot comment.

Main stream media has no concept of public life because it hasn’t lived in our realm for quite some time. Leigh Sales meeting with Tony Abbott for dinner and Clive’s infamous banana split with Malcolm Turnbull and Martin Ferguson is not unusual. In fact it is their norm. Both major parties have done this for so long that it appears to be an entrenched world of old ideologies and forgotten philosophies.

And lets not forget the ultimate Big Brother Rupert Murdoch. Remember when the infamous ‘Bondi Punch up’ was headlining for a good couple of weeks? You have to ask why? Once we start doing that it gives us a chance to really know not whether you are Left or Right aligned but if you support their policies. Because it’s not about being a rusted on ALP voter, because that’s what mum and dad voted. It’s also not about the leader as such, it’s the whole party, he/she is just the front person for their core beliefs and policies. And that’s it. Take the jargon and bull shit away it’s just life….Being disengaged and misinformed is tragic to me in this day and age and has worked well as a business model in the USA but I really don’t think it will work here as much as Lord Monckton would like. It appears to be a game plan set in place a very long time ago by people such as Murdoch, Rhinehart and Monckton, that we the general public had no idea about. Please check the link provided to get context.

Elitism will never work here, mainly due to colonial history in my humble opinion. The ‘fair shake of the sauce bottle’ is born from that. We love sports because anyone can have a go, anyone! Perhaps that is why our current refugee situation is so beguiling. We have always been welcoming, just listen to our national anthem.

What changed? Fear, pure and simple which led to big business sharks generating self interest to fatten thy wallets? The lobbying needs to stop and the concept that we are not a society; because it’s bigger than that. We are global brothers and sisters that need to keep the conversation flowing.

Please check out the link below and make up your OWN mind.