- Prime Minister Tony Abbott has defended the Government’s decision to cut the Medicare rebate for short consultations, amid concerns patients will end up paying more.
- ACT Police are investigating the death of a second elderly patient at the Jindalee Aged Care Residence in Canberra’s south.
- Domestic violence victims working for Telstra will have access to ten extra days of paid leave a year under a new policy. The leave policy, launched on November 24 last year to coincide with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 15th January 2015. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has defended the Government’s decision to cut the Medicare rebate for short consultations, amid concerns patients will end up paying more.
From Monday, the rebate for appointments lasting less than 10 minutes will be cut by around $20, from $37.05 to $16.95.
The Australian Medical Association (AMA) said in many cases doctors would have to pass the cost on to patients instead.
Mr Abbott told Fairfax radio these were difficult decisions but Medicare had to be sustainable.
He said the changes were designed to ensure doctors spent “reasonable” time with their patients.
“Just a few months ago the AMA was saying that they didn’t want to see six-minute medicine, they didn’t want to support bulk-billing clinics,” he said.
“They wanted to see doctors spending more time with their patients, and that’s exactly what these changes are designed to produce.”
Mr Abbott said it was up to doctors to decide how much patients were charged.
“This is a Government which is serious about economic reform, and price signals in our health system is an economic reform,” he said.
“We’re serious about budget responsibility. Is the Senate? Now that’s the question.”
The change to the rebate can be disallowed by the Senate when Parliament resumes next month.
The Greens support a disallowance motion, and other key crossbench senators are also worried about the impact of the rebate cut, but they will need Labor on side to succeed in blocking the change.
Labor has not confirmed its position, but earlier this week Opposition Leader Bill Shorten raised the issue while campaigning in Queensland.
“What the rebate reductions mean in plain English is fewer Queensland doctors will be bulk billing,” he said.
“More Queenslanders will have to wait when they are sick and will end up going into the medical system later when they are sicker.”
Mr Abbott said Medicare must be sustainable and he challenged the Opposition and the crossbench senators to put forward their own proposals.
“It seems that the Labor Party and the Senate are just not prepared to accept any tough decisions,” he said.
“That puts our nation in a very difficult position. That puts Medicare in a very difficult position.”
ACT Police are investigating the death of a second elderly patient at the Jindalee Aged Care Residence in Canberra’s south.
A 94-year-old man was found dead at the nursing home at Narrabundah in January 2012.
His injuries prompted a police investigation but the main suspect, also a resident of the home, died before it could be completed.
Detectives are also investigating the death of an 81-year-old man who died at the same home in 2012 amid suspected criminal behaviour.
Police said they had no concerns for the safety of residents at the home despite investigating two suspicious deaths.
Jindalee cares for about 144 elderly residents, including dementia patients in a secure ward.
Domestic violence victims working for Telstra will have access to ten extra days of paid leave a year under a new policy.
The leave policy, launched on November 24 last year to coincide with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, will allow full-time employees to attend medical appointments or seek legal advice or counselling.
“The purpose of our new domestic and family violence policy is to provide support to employees and manager[s] of employees who may be experiencing the effects of family and domestic violence,” said Troy Roderick, the general manager of diversity and inclusion at Telstra.
“It may be to attend counselling appointments or even court visits or just time away from the situation that you’re experiencing.”
Casuals will also be able to take time off for such matters, but it will be unpaid.
Virgin Australia, some banks and public sector organisations have also recently started to offer domestic violence leave.
Australian Council of Trade Unions president Ged Kearney said domestic violence leave is becoming increasingly common.
“We have about 1.6 million workers already covered by domestic leave clauses, and the more big employers like Telstra that take it on means more employers will see it can work,” she said.
The peak union body wants the entitlement to be extended to all Australian workers.
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