- The Federal Government has dumped plans to cut the rebate for short GP visits by $20, amid a fierce political backlash and stiff opposition from doctors.
- An epilepsy support group has endorsed Keira MP Ryan Park’s calls for access to medical marijuana to be made available quickly, saying the drug can stop seizures in patients who suffer as many as 400 seizures a day.
- The major parties should subsidise fruit and vegetables in some communities to combat an obesity crisis in Queensland, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) says.
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 16th January 2015. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News
The Federal Government has dumped plans to cut the rebate for short GP visits by $20, amid a fierce political backlash and stiff opposition from doctors.
The rebate for GP consultations less than 10 minutes was due to be cut from next Monday.
However, the move was set to be struck down by the Senate.
Today new Health Minister Sussan Ley announced the changes would not go ahead and had been “taken off the table”.
The minister said she would now undertake “wide-ranging” consultation with doctors and the community across the country to come with “sensible options” for Medicare reform.
But she said the Government remained committed to a GP co-payment as a price signal in the health system.
“It remains critical that we implement changes to ensure quality care for Australians and a secure future for Medicare,” Ms Ley said.
The changes would have meant doctors no longer received a $37.05 rebate for Level A consultations, but instead received only $16.95 – a cut of $20.10.
This amount would have been further reduced (to $11.95) from July 1 when cuts to rebates for longer consultations would have also kicked in.
The Government planned to leave it to individual doctors as to whether they passed on the shortfall to patients.
Australian Medical Association (AMA) president Brian Owler welcomed the decision to dump the changes.
An epilepsy support group has endorsed Keira MP Ryan Park’s calls for access to medical marijuana to be made available quickly, saying the drug can stop seizures in patients who suffer as many as 400 seizures a day.
Epilepsy Action Australia CEO Carol Ireland says she’s delighted at the $9m trial for medicinal cannabis, but has stopped short of endorsing NSW Labor’s calls for immediate changes to the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act.
But she wants the trials to be done quickly, because the early evidence for the use of medicinal cannabis in treating especially aggressive forms of epilepsy paints it as a miracle drug.
Ms Ireland says Dravet syndrome, which can cause up to 500 seizures a day, has been effectively treated by cannabidiol.
“You can imagine the long-term effects of that [500 seizures a day] happening, and the other side effects of traditional medications.
“Some of these children are now seizure-free and it’s very hard to argue with that.”
She says parents and carers have been obtaining marijuana through illegal means, and she’s concerned about the quality of the drugs.
By allowing a medical trial, those patients will still have access to the drug, but in a controlled, safe and legal environment.
The active ingredient – cannabidoil – is a non-psychotropic part of the marijuana plant and does not induce a ‘high’.
It’s also usually taken orally rather than smoked.
The NSW Government will look to import medical cannabis from Europe or the US, or potentially grow its own crop.
The major parties should subsidise fruit and vegetables in some communities to combat an obesity crisis in Queensland, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) says.
Queensland president Dr Shaun Rudd said the “state emergency” of obesity was costing the state economy more than $11.6 billion every year.
The issue tops the AMA’s election platform, which also made recommendations for political parties on alcohol abuse, end-of-life-care and hospital technology.
Dr Rudd said more education was needed to lower the alarming rates of obesity across the state.
“What was used to be called the smart state we now call ourselves the fat state,” he said.
“We now have 10 per cent more fat people in Queensland than the Australian average, we have 2.5 million fat people or overweight [people] and 1.5 million of those are obese that’s another fancy way of saying they are very, very fat.
The AMA’s recommendations include banning fast food outlets from opening within one kilometre of new schools, subsidising fruit and vegetables for at risk communities, additional funding to allow more people to die at home, and investing in a world-class IT system for Queensland hospitals.
Dr Rudd said all politicians have a vested interest in putting health first.
“Recent polls show more than 80 per cent of voters regard health as the major election issue,” he said.
“Being too fat, drunk and violent puts an enormous burden on our communities and our healthcare system but it doesn’t have to be that way.”
Dr Rudd has urged all sides of politics to step up to the plate.
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