- A French patient infected with a deadly new respiratory virus called MERS died Tuesday of the disease, which has killed half the people it’s made sick and alarmed global health officials.
- State premiers have reacted angrily to an $80 billion federal budget cut to schools and hospitals funding, accusing the Commonwealth of trying to “wedge” them into pushing for a hike to the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
- AMA Vice President Professor Geoffrey Dobb said tonight that the 2014 health Budget is full of pain for patients.
A French patient infected with a deadly new respiratory virus called MERS died Tuesday of the disease, which has killed half the people it’s made sick and alarmed global health officials.
The 65-year-old man, who had traveled to Dubai, was the first patient in France to be diagnosed with the virus. The French health ministry said … his hospital roommate also tested positive for the illness and is critically ill.
Most of those infected since the virus was identified last year had traveled to Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan or Pakistan. There also have been cases in Britain and Germany. It’s killed 22 people so far.
While there is little evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission of MERS, health experts are concerned about clustering as it has spread from the Gulf to France, Britain and Germany.
There’s no vaccine against MERS and antiviral drugs don’t appear to be of much use against it, either.
Dr. Margaret Chan, head of the World Health Organization, singled out the illness in a speech on Monday in Geneva. SHE STATED THAT “We understand too little about this virus when viewed against the magnitude of its potential threat” …”We do not know where the virus hides in nature. We do not know how people are getting infected. Until we answer these questions, we are empty-handed when it comes to prevention. These are alarm bells. And we must respond.”
Budget 2014: States accuse Federal Government of forcing them to push for GST hike
By political correspondent Emma Griffiths
State premiers have reacted angrily to an $80 billion federal budget cut to schools and hospitals funding, accusing the Commonwealth of trying to “wedge” them into pushing for a hike to the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
Commonwealth funding will be slashed from schools and hospitals over the next decade, as the Federal Government moves agreements with the states and territories to “more realistic” deals.
New South Wales Premier Mike Baird says the Federal Government is trying to fix the budget bottom line by shifting the burden to the states – and the states will not cop it.
“When we got our house in order, we didn’t send the bill to Canberra,” he said.
“We got our house in order, we took the actions required and got our budget back onto a sustainable path.
“What we had last night from the Federal Government is a fleet pass; it is cost shifting and it says to this state, ‘we have a problem, you work it out’.
“Our message back to Canberra is no, we’re in this together. You cannot outsource your problems to the state.”
Queensland’s leader Campbell Newman says the changes are “not fair” and “not acceptable”.
HE STATED THAT
“This is about a fair share of the income tax that mums and dads in Queensland pay coming back to fund their hospitals and their schools.
“The GST is, if you like, a political wedge that the Government is playing and frankly, most of the first ministers – well the first ministers I’ve spoken to – are pretty annoyed about that.”
He says he wants “some change” to the federal budget and is calling for an “emergency meeting” of the Council of Australian Government’s (COAG) to discuss the cuts with the Prime Minister.
WA, SA, Tasmania also concerned about cuts
Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey says it is “up to the states” to work out how to make up for the funding shortfall.
Health Budget full of pain for patients
AMA Vice President Professor Geoffrey Dobb said tonight that the 2014 health Budget is full of pain for patients.
Professor Dobb said that patients – especially vulnerable patients such as the chronically ill, the elderly, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, and low income families – will pay more for their health care.
“Many Australians already pay a co-payment, and there is a place for co-payments for patients with the right model – but this is not the right model,” Professor Dobb said. “It does not have the right protections.”
Patients will now face higher out-of-pocket costs at their GP, the emergency department, pathology, radiology, and at the pharmacy through new or higher co-payments.
The AMA is concerned that too many costs are being shifted to patients through:
· co-payments for GP services;
· co-payments for emergency departments;
· higher co-payments for medicines;
· cuts to Medicare rebates; and
· frozen rebates for specialist services.
Professor Dobb said changes to the National Health Reform Funding Agreement will create uncertainty in the states and territories about public hospital funding.
“State budgets will be in danger of being overrun by public hospital cuts,” Professor Dobb said.
“Patient will have longer waits for public hospital services.
“Put together, the cuts and co-payments threaten fairness and equity in the health system.
“The AMA recognises the Government’s priority is to achieve a Budget surplus, but it should not be achieved by costing health services out of the reach of ordinary Australians.”
The AMA welcomes:
· more GP training places, but is concerned they are funded by abolition of the successful Prevocational GP Training Place programs;
· strong investment in medical research;
· preservation of prevention and health workforce functions despite the abolition of agencies; and
· reform to Medicare Locals and creation of primary health networks.
The AMA is concerned there may have been cuts to Indigenous health programs.
The AMA will examine the full Budget papers and have more to say in the coming days.
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