The Health News – 10 Dec 2014

Overview

  • The plan to charge patients an extra $7 GP fee has been scrapped by the Federal Government. Prime Minister Tony Abbott has announced the contentious budget proposal will be dropped.
  • A living experiment has been conducted by medical researchers aiming to unlock the secrets of adult disease. The study, known as the Childhood Determinants of Adult Health, was initially designed to give a snapshot of the health of Australian school children.
  • The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has released new advice for consumers to be extremely careful when ordering genetic tests online, saying the tests may not meet Australian quality and reliability standards.


News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 10th December 2014. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-12-09/federal-government-dumps-gp-co-payment/5955012

The plan to charge patients an extra $7 GP fee has been scrapped by the Federal Government.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has announced the contentious budget proposal will be dropped.

“There will be no change to bulk billing for children under 16, for pensioners, for veterans, for people in nursing homes and other aged care institutions,” Mr Abbott said.

However, the Government is cutting the Medicare rebate paid to doctors by $5 a visit in a bid to address the “troublesome issue of six-minute medicine” and encourage doctors to spend more time with patients.

The cut means it will be left up to doctors to decide whether to make up the shortfall by charging what the Government has called an “optional co-payment”.

The Government also announced that to receive the standard rebate, consultations with doctors must be at least 10 minutes and that the level of rebate would be frozen over the forward estimates.

The $7 fee on visits to the doctor, pathology and diagnostic imaging services was announced in the budget and had been regarded as a “barnacle” stuck to the Government.

Mr Abbott told Coalition MPs late last month that he would be removing some “barnacles” from the Government before Christmas.

The patient contributions were touted at budget time as saving $3.5 billion over five years – savings that were to be invested into a Medicare Research Future Fund.

Mr Abbott said the new plan would result in the same amount of savings and the research fund will still be established.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-12-09/finding-connections-between-child-and-adult-health/5955252

A living experiment has been conducted by medical researchers aiming to unlock the secrets of adult disease.

The lead researcher said one of the surprising outcomes was that obese children could reverse the health impacts if they lost weight.

The Menzies institute has been running clinics in Tasmania and Victoria involving hundreds of people who were first studied three decades ago as school kids.

The study, known as the Childhood Determinants of Adult Heath, was initially designed to give a snapshot of the health of Australian school children.

But it provided so much information researchers decided to track down as many participants as possible in 2000 to check their adult health.

Researchers said they would use the results to discover the connections between childhood and adult health.

The researchers said the human guinea pigs may hold the answers to better treatment of obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

Thirty years later many of the participants have been called back in for another unusual school reunion.

Professor Alison Venn from the Menzies Research Institute of Tasmania is leading the third round of testing.

Professor Venn said some surprising outcomes were beginning to emerge.

“For those overweight and obese children who managed to avoid becoming obese adults their cardiovascular and diabetes risk looked pretty much the same as those children who had never been overweight or obese.”

Professor Tom Marwick said he hoped the study would lead to a breakthrough in diagnosing damage to the heart and arteries before someone has symptoms.

“There’s some early changes of heart function that tells us that the heart is beginning to get into trouble while the patient is still asymptomatic and feeling fine,” he said.

The Menzies Institute has called for anyone who was poked and prodded 30 years ago to rejoin its living experiment.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-12-09/online-genetic-tests-may-not-meet-quality-standards-nhmrc/5954390

Experts are warning Australians to be extremely careful when ordering genetic tests online, saying the tests may not meet Australian quality and reliability standards.

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has released new advice for consumers, after genetic tests have become increasingly available on the internet and cheaper to buy.

NHMRC chief executive Professor Warwick Anderson said patients and consumers need to “be aware of the implications of using genetic tests which may preclude the advice or involvement of their doctor”.

“Given phenomenal advances in genetic technologies, more and more companies are offering direct-to-consumer genetic tests,” Professor Anderson said.

“These are being taken up by an increasing number of people who are curious about their ancestry or interested in learning about their predisposition to certain health conditions.”

He warned while the tests may be cheaper online, there was no guarantee of their quality.

The new guidelines were developed by NHMRC’s Human Genetics Advisory Committee, and both documents are available from the NHMRC website.

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