- Experts have suggested the Government could feasibly bypass the Senate to introduce some elements of the Medicare GP co-payment.
- New research has revealed Queensland’s south-west and southern inland has the state’s highest proportion of melanoma cases.
- A leukaemia survivor and an old bushman are among a group of people who have begun an epic charity horse trek from western Queensland to Tasmania.
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 17th July 2014. Read by Rebecca Foster.
Experts have suggested the Government could feasibly bypass the Senate to introduce some elements of the Medicare GP co-payment.
Advice from the Parliamentary Library suggests the Government could use its regulatory powers to reduce the Medicare rebate paid to doctors by $5.
This could force GPs into a position where they have to charge patients to make up the difference.
However, if the Government did reduce the rebate using regulations, the Senate would still have the power to move a motion of disallowance.
It comes after Treasurer Joe Hockey warned he was ready to bypass Parliament and force through new spending cuts if Labor and the Greens did not come to the table on billions of dollars of budget savings.
The ABC has also learned the Australian Medical Association (AMA) will meet with the Treasurer and Finance Minister to discuss some of its other health budget measures.
The Government also has the regulatory power to raise the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme co-payment and make changes to the approved procedures on the Medicare benefits schedule outside of Parliament.
The office of Australian Greens health spokesman Richard Di Natale says their advice from the Parliamentary Library was that the Government did have the power to reduce the Medicare rebate.
The Senate, if it was against the rebate, would have to move a motion of disallowance to sink it.
Health policy experts have also confirmed to the ABC that it is technically possible.
The Palmer United Party, which has the balance of power in the Senate, has joined Labor and the Greens in vocally opposing the co-payment.
The Government would face a bigger challenge to introduce the remaining $2 of the $7 co-payment.
This requires legislative changes to the bulk billing incentives paid to general practitioners.
When the co-payment was last introduced in 1991, it was introduced in full as legislation and later repealed.
New research has revealed Queensland’s south-west and southern inland has the state’s highest proportion of melanoma cases.
Cancer Council Queensland said an area from Toowoomba and Dalby, west to Charleville was the state’s melanoma hotspot.
Statistics show that region has about 76 cases of melanoma diagnosed per 100,000 people each year.
Cancer Council Queensland executive manager Katie Clift says it is unclear why that region fared the worst.
The finding was doubly concerning because rural and regional people were already more likely to die from any form of cancer compared with people in cities.
“What we have at the moment is about 250 Queenslanders who live in rural and remote areas who die from cancer each year who would survive if they lived in urban areas,” Ms Clift said.
“It’s really important for people no matter where they live in Queensland particularly to be sun smart.
“If you’re in a rural or remote area, make sure you have access to these health practitioners, you get your skin checked regularly, and the message for all Queenslanders is to know your own skin.”
Authorities have often called skin cancer a Queensland disease, because the state registers the highest rates of skin cancer in the world.
Cancer Council Queensland says about 3,000 melanoma and 133,000 non-melanoma skin cancers are diagnosed across the state each year.
Melanoma has been most commonly linked to sun exposure, but cancer treatment figures have shown a 93 per cent survival rate after five years.
“The key messages really for everyone are get yourself checked, make it a regular annual appointment, and just the basics – slip, slop, slap, seek, slide.”
The Sunshine Coast is the second highest melanoma hot spot, with 71 cases per 100,000 people.
A leukaemia survivor and an old bushman are among a group of people who have begun an epic charity horse trek from western Queensland to Tasmania.
Four riders, accompanied by four dogs, will travel 3,000 kilometres of stock routes on horseback over 100 days in what has been dubbed the Long Ride 4 Life.
They began their journey on Wednesday morning from the Stockman’s Hall of Fame in Longreach.
Among them is 76-year-old Harold Riley, who has spent most of his life mustering in western Queensland.
He insisted he was not fazed by big days in the saddle.
Mr Riley’s daughter, self-confessed city slicker Terrill Riley-Gibson, is saddling up for some of the trek.
Her husband Andrew Gibson is a leukaemia survivor and will drive the support truck.
Mr Gibson said the fundraising target had special significance for him, but he would not be able to take part in the ride.
Ms Riley-Gibson said they hoped to raise $250,000 for the two charities.
The ride is due to finish in Tasmania on November 1.
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