The Health News – 29 October 2015

Overview:
•  New evidence has emerged showing that a sophisticated Medicare scam that involves stealing people’s identities and setting up bogus bank accounts is operating in at least three states. New South Wales Police are investigating the theft of personal details from Medicare records and now an identical scam has emerged in the Northern Territory.

• Ranks of childless foreign couples have flocked to the India in recent years looking for a low-cost, legal and simple route to parenthood. Health industry estimates put the size of India’s surrogacy business at nine billion rupees ($138 million) and growing at 20 per cent a year. But critics have said a lack of legislation governing surrogacy encourages “rent-a-womb” exploitation of young, poor Indian women.

• Local health chief Chris Crawford says he was pleasantly surprised by the findings of a recent patient survey. The Bureau of Health Information quizzed 27,000 patients across the state about the care they received in public hospitals last year. Almost three-quarters of those surveyed in the local area rated their care as very good, compared to a state-wide average of 63 per cent.

News on Health Professional Radio.  Today is the 29th October 2015. Read by Rebecca Foster.  Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-10-28/medicare-scam-now-in-three-states-new-evidence-suggests/6893032

New evidence has emerged showing that a sophisticated Medicare scam that involves stealing people’s identities and setting up bogus bank accounts is operating in at least three states.

One Labor senator has called on the Government to do more to investigate the issue, which he says is evidently being run across three states and territories.

New South Wales Police are investigating the theft of personal details from Medicare records and now an identical scam has emerged in the Northern Territory.

Darwin doctor Sam Heard discovered his personal details had been stolen and a false bank account set up in his name soon after he visited the Royal Darwin Hospital’s emergency department on September 19.

It was the first time he had used his Medicare card in almost 10 years.

“I was dealt with fairly quickly in the middle of the night, and then headed off home and I haven’t been back since. So I just had the one contact,” Dr Heard said.

Three weeks later he received a letter from Medicare.

“[It was] saying that they were going to pay over $2,000 into my bank account. It gave the details of the bank account — and it wasn’t my bank account,” he said.

The bank account had a Sydney BSB.

When he studied the letter from Medicare further, Dr Heard discovered the payment was for a service he had never had, purportedly performed by a doctor in Queensland he had never been to.

Dr Heard called the Medicare fraud line and discussed the false payment but has not heard from Medicare since.

Within weeks, a Commonwealth Bank debit card in Dr Heard’s name arrived at his home address, despite the fact he had not opened a new account.

He checked with the Commonwealth Bank, where he has been a customer for 20 years.

“The bank account was in my name, my date of birth and my full address had been used,” he said.

Bank staff confirmed money had already been paid into the account.

“I said: ‘Would it be this amount from Medicare?’ And she said yes,” Dr Heard said.

The fraudulent payment had already been withdrawn from the account.

Victims in NSW have reported up to nine false bank accounts being opened in their names using personal details taken from their Medicare records.

The Department of Human Services told a Senate committee a total of $30,550 had been identified in debts arising from the scam.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-10-28/india-to-ban-booming-surrogacy-service-to-foreigners/6894104

India’s government says it plans to ban surrogate services for foreigners wanting babies, a move likely to hit hard the booming and lucrative industry.

Ranks of childless foreign couples have flocked to the country in recent years looking for a low-cost, legal and simple route to parenthood.

Health industry estimates put the size of India’s surrogacy business at nine billion rupees ($138 million) and growing at 20 per cent a year.

But critics have said a lack of legislation governing surrogacy encourages “rent-a-womb” exploitation of young, poor Indian women.

In an affidavit to the Supreme Court the government said it “does not support commercial surrogacy”.

Thousands of infertile couples, many from overseas, hire the wombs of local women to carry their embryos through to birth.

India, with cheap technology, skilled doctors and a steady supply of local surrogates, is one of relatively few countries where women can be paid to carry another’s child through to birth.

The process usually involves in-vitro fertilisation and embryo transfer, leading to a rise in fertility centres offering such services.

The private petition to the top court seeks a halt to the importation of human embryos for commercial purposes.

Dr Nayana Patel, one of India’s leading fertility specialists, said the move discriminated against foreigners who were also desperate to have children.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-10-28/health-survey-north-coast/6893356

Local health chief Chris Crawford says he was pleasantly surprised by the findings of a recent patient survey.

The Bureau of Health Information quizzed 27,000 patients across the state about the care they received in public hospitals last year.

Almost three-quarters of those surveyed in the local area rated their care as very good, compared to a statewide average of 63 per cent.

Mr Crawford said that was a tribute to the efforts of local staff.

Mr Crawford said a survey of cancer patients also showed those attending hospitals in the Northern Rivers were generally pleased with the care they received.

He said the northern New South Wales region received the second highest rating in the state, with the Grafton Hospital rated one of the state’s top three for cancer care according to patients.

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