Our so-called ‘universal’ healthcare: the well waste money and the poor get sicker

The Guardian, 11 June 2017
Author: Amy Corderoy
“The waste of wellness dollars is an ethical issue when health inequality in Australia is a life-or-death issue. While the worried well shell out great amounts stockpiling placebos, the poor get sicker. What if all those billions of dollars were poured into some real wellness? Perhaps along with our tobacco tax, we need to introduce a snake-oil tax as well. We need to start thinking of this waste of wellness dollars as an ethical issue. Because the money is needed elsewhere. And desperately.”
Find article here.

Legal Dispute Continues Over Medicare Coverage Of Physical Therapy

NPR, 30 January 2017
Author: Susan Jaffe
“Four years after Medicare officials agreed in a landmark court settlement that seniors can’t be denied coverage for physical therapy and other skilled care simply because their condition isn’t improving, patients are still being turned away. As a result, federal officials and Medicare advocates have renewed their federal court battle, acknowledging that they cannot agree on a way to fix the problem. Earlier this month, each submitted ideas to the judge, who will decide — possibly within the next few months — what measures should be taken.”
Find article here.

Selia v Commonwealth of Australia [2017] FCA 7

Date of judgment: 13 January 2017
“By way of a final report (the Final Report), the PSR Committee found that Dr Selia had engaged in “inappropriate practice” as defined in s 82(1)(d) of the Act in connection with providing certain services referred to the PSR Committee for investigation under the Act, including:(1) Dr Selia’s practice of billing Medicare for dental services in advance of their provision; and (2) the provision of dental services by dentists employed by Dr Selia using his Medicare provider number.”
Find judgment here.

After hours aged care: profit versus quality care

MJA Insight, Issue 43 / 7 November 2016
Author: Cate Swannell
“Professor Kirsty Douglas, professor of general practice at the Australian National University, told MJA InSight that significant shifts in Medicare claims for after-hours services, as well as changes in advertising regulations that made it possible for medical deputising services to advertise directly to the public, had complicated an already byzantine model of aged care.”
Find article here.

‘Narcissistic’ surgeons charge cancer patients exorbitant out-of-pocket costs without disclosing alternatives

SMH, 20 June 2016
Author: Kate Aubusson
“Cancer patients are being charged exorbitant out-of-pocket costs for “flashy” surgeries by doctors who are not disclosing the full financial burden or equally effective alternatives in the public system, cancer experts say.”
Find article here.

France: a philosophy for health

The Lancet, Volume 387, No. 10034, p2174-2176
Authors: Richard Horton, Audrey Ceschia
“The dominance of English as the language of science and, increasingly, global health too often closes the door on the history and experiences of others. In France’s case, careful study of the nation’s struggle to achieve universal health coverage, together with its distinctive approach to global health, has much to offer those who seek to understand the diversity of paths to achieve better health at home and abroad. The two Lancet Series papers1,2 on France’s contribution to health, along with four comments from French or Francophone leaders,3–6 aim to correct this imbalance in the English-language literature on health.”
Find commentary and related series articles here.

Address to the Sixty-ninth World Health Assembly: WHO Director-General

Director-General of the World Health Organization, online 23 May 2016
“Member States have approved roadmaps of strategic actions for taking forward work on individual health targets. Nearly all these strategies and plans map out priority R&D innovations that will boost the prospects of reaching ambitious goals. Innovations help, but ambitious goals are feasible and affordable only if we cut out waste and inefficiency. We do so through integrated, people-centred care that spans the life course, from pre-conception through ageing, and brings prevention to the fore. The target for universal health coverage moves us in that direction. UHC is the target that underpins all others. It is the ultimate expression of fairness that leaves no one behind. It also has the best chance of meetings people’s expectations for comprehensive care that does not drive them below the poverty line.”
Find full address here. Find WHA Assembly (23-28 May) details here.

Election 2016: Turnbull defends Sussan Ley’s claims Medicare freeze lift blocked by department

ABC News, online 23 May 2016
Reporter: Caitlyn Gribbin
“Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has tried to clarify Health Minister Sussan Ley’s claims her push to lift the Government’s freeze on Medicare rebates is being blocked by departmental red tape. The Government announced in this month’s budget the indexation freeze would be extended until at least 2020, which doctors are warning will lead to less bulk billing. Ms Ley said this morning she wanted to lift the freeze but the Finance and Treasury departments were not “allowing” her to make the change. Mr Turnbull said the indexation freeze would “end at some point” in the future and, despite doctors’ warnings, bulk billing rates were still high.”
Find article here.

Protecting human security: proposals for the G7 Ise-Shima Summit in Japan

The Lancet, Volume 387, No. 10033, p2155–2162, 21 May 2016
Author: Japan Global Health Working Group
“In today’s highly globalised world, protecting human security is a core challenge for political leaders who are simultaneously dealing with terrorism, refugee and migration crises, disease epidemics, and climate change. Promoting universal health coverage (UHC) will help prevent another disease outbreak similar to the recent Ebola outbreak in west Africa, and create robust health systems, capable of withstanding future shocks. Robust health systems, in turn, are the prerequisites for achieving UHC. We propose three areas for global health action by the G7 countries at their meeting in Japan in May, 2016, to protect human security around the world:…”
Find summary here.

AMA launches national campaign against the Medicare rebate freeze

AMA statement, online 15 May 2016
“The AMA today launched a national campaign against the Government’s Medicare patient rebate freeze, with posters and campaign materials being distributed to the AMA’s more than 30,000 members – GPs and all other medical specialists – and will be made available to all doctors and practices around the country. AMA President, Professor Brian Owler, said today that the AMA has been flooded with feedback from doctors and patients since Budget night about the extension of the Medicare freeze until 2020, and people are angry and concerned. “The Medicare patient rebate freeze extension means that health is going to cost more for all Australians, but particularly the poorest, the sickest, the vulnerable, and the disadvantaged,” Professor Owler said.”
Find statement and further information here.