- A Department of Human Services phone line is telling callers that changes to Medicare, including the new $7 GP co-payment, are set to apply from July 2015.
- AMA President, ASSOCIATE/Prof Brian Owler, said today that hard-won improvements in public hospital emergency departments will be short-lived without guaranteed long-term funding at required levels.
- A group of scientists and researchers is calling on the World Health Organisation (WHO) to resist the urge to crack down on e-cigarettes.
The news on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 30TH May 2014. Read by Rebecca Foster.
E-cigarettes, GP co-payments & public hospital funding feature in today’s news.
A Department of Human Services phone line is telling callers that changes to Medicare, including the new $7 GP co-payment, are set to apply from July 2015.
The changes to Medicare are among the most controversial proposals in the federal budget, and it is far from clear whether they will pass the Senate.
But callers to the Department of Human Services Medicare program have heard a pre-recorded message saying the changes will take effect from July 2015.
The message says: “From the first of July 2015 the Medicare benefit will be reduced by $5 for all patients for non-referred general practitioner consultations, out-of-hospital pathology episodes [and] out-of-hospital diagnostic imaging services.”
The recording also suggests the controversial $7 GP co-payment has also already been approved.
“Patient contribution of $7 will be introduced and this may be charged by the provider.”
The message has been posted even though the Government has not yet introduced the laws required to enact the change.
A spokesman for Human Services Minister Marise Payne said the “intent of the message … is to inform customers of the proposed change”.
AMA President, ASSOCIATE/Prof Brian Owler, said today that hard-won improvements in public hospital emergency departments will be short-lived without guaranteed long-term funding at required levels.
A/Prof Owler said that the National Health Performance Authority (NHPA) report – Time patients spent in emergency departments in 2012 and 2013 – shows that our major metropolitan public hospitals have significantly improved the number of patients who are leaving their emergency departments within four hours.
“These improvements are a direct result of the specific funding that was provided by the Commonwealth to State and Territory governments to increase the capacity of public hospitals,” A/Prof Owler said.
“The improvements reflect the efforts of the dedicated and hardworking doctors and nurses working around the clock in our emergency departments and in the other areas of the hospitals that need to work efficiently to allow patients to be admitted from emergency.
“We need to build on these improvements, and that will require planning and proper funding.
“But the Improving Public Hospital Services agreement has now ceased, and there is no replacement in sight.
“There has also been a significant reduction in funding guaranteed for public hospital services in the National Health Reform Agreement.
“This means that there is no certainty that hospitals will be able to maintain capacity to reach the four hour target of 90 per cent by 2015.
“Public hospitals are a vital part of our health system. They provide quality accessible care for millions of Australians, and they are the engine room of medical training in this country. They must be properly supported, and that means more funding, not less,” A/Prof Owler said.
A group of scientists and researchers is calling on the World Health Organisation (WHO) to resist the urge to crack down on e-cigarettes.
The vapour cigarettes do deliver nicotine and a leaked document suggests that the WHO is looking to put them in the same category as regular cigarettes and declare them a threat to public health.
The smokeless e-cigarettes are expected to be high on the agenda when the health organisation’s tobacco control meeting is held in Moscow, Russia in October.
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