The Health News – 7 March 2014

Overview

  • New information shows that Medicare has been the subject of hundreds of thousands of dollars of fraud every year. The Department of Human Services have received over a thousand alerts of possible Medicare frauds Since July last year.
  • Health experts are warning that companies marketing multivitamins for children have no basis for many of their claims.
  • In NSW, the new cancer centre at Lake Macquarie Private Hospital is expected to improve current delays in radiation oncology treatment at Newcastle’s Calvary Mater.

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Australian Medicare fraud revealed in new figures, 1,116 tip-offs so far this financial year – by Sophie Scott
New information shows that Medicare has been the subject of hundreds of thousands of dollars of fraud every year. The Department of Human Services have received over a thousand alerts of possible Medicare frauds Since July last year. This news comes ahead of the proposal currently under consideration by the Commission of Audit to charge patients $6 per GP visit, a move intended to reduce the strain on Medicare. Of the 34 Medicare fraud cases submitted to the Dept of Public Prosecutions last year, 12 were convicted for fraud totalling around $474,000. Ten of the cases were committed by members of the public, two by medical workers. A spokesperson for the Dept of Human Services said “The Department of Human Services takes all allegations of fraud seriously and seeks to investigate where sufficient information is provided to do so.” The yearly Professional Services Review which scrutinises doctors Medicare usage showed doctors had to repay over $1 million in total over the past year. One doctor involved had reported figures to Medicare of over 500 appointments on one day and over 200 on multiple occasions.

Parents ‘wasting money’ on children’s vitamins as health experts label marketing misleading – by Adam Harvey
Health experts are warning that companies marketing multi-vitamins for children have no basis for many of their claims. Paediatricians and health policy and dietary experts have reported the advertising use is aimed at parents whose children are healthy. A commentator said the ad’s intention is to make parents believe their children are receiving insufficient vitamins in their diet, and make unsubstantiated remarks about the positive effects of supplements. Emeritus professor John Dwyer from the Friends of Science in Medicine says of the advertising, “[It] suggests to parents that their children should be taking vitamins as a routine part of a healthy lifestyle. That’s nonsense. They’re not needed, and an awful lot of money is wasted,” he said. Other health experts say that even children with a narrow diet are unlikely to be vitamin deficient, and that addressing possible deficiencies should be achieved through a broader diet rather than vitamin supplements.

New cancer centre for both public, private patients – no author listed
In NSW, the new cancer centre at Lake Macquarie Private Hospital is expected to improve current delays in radiation oncology treatment at Newcastle’s Calvary Mater. The Hunter Cancer Centre opened yesterday and will provide both private and public patients with medical and radiation and surgical oncology services. Specialist in cancer research Associate Professor Peter O’Brien hopes the new centre will lighten the treatment load on the Mater. He said “It compliments those services because, regrettably, there’s been waiting lists for radiotherapy at the Mater for many years. This service is going to allow the Mater to deal with more boutique areas of treatment, that will be good for them. We are able to provide rapid access for patients.”

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