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THE CONVERSATION |

Hospital workforce reform: better jobs and more care

Peter Breadon writes: Employees are the public hospital system’s most valuable resource, and its biggest cost. Wages account for nearly 70% of recurrent hospital spending. To keep hospital care affordable in a time of rising demand, it’s vital that skills are used to the full. Yet many professionals work well below their skill level. Does it take 15 [...]

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THE CONVERSATION |

Fat free and 100% natural: seven food labelling tricks exposed

Sandra Jones writes: If you’re confused by food labels, you’re not alone. But don’t hold your breath for an at-a-glance food labelling system that tells you how much salt, fat and sugar each product contains. Australia’s proposed “health star rating” labelling scheme was put on hold in February, following pressure from the food industry. And [...]

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THE CONVERSATION |

Rationing care vs increasing taxes – the health system sustainability myth

Stephen Duckett writes: In the lead-up to the May budget, the seemingly inexorable rise in health spending has unleashed a “sustainability panic”: rhetoric that health system costs are out of control and drastic measures are needed to make the system affordable. Sustainability panic is often used to justify shifting the burden of controlling health spending from the [...]

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THE CONVERSATION |

Bad news: negative Indigenous health coverage reinforces stigma

Melissa Stoneham writes: Think of Aboriginal health and you’ll probably recall messages of large gaps in life expectancy, increasing rates of chronic diseases such as diabetes, kidney disease and asthma. Or that the last ten years has been a “wasted decade” for Aboriginal people. It won’t be too much of a surprise, then, to learn that 74% of [...]

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THE CONVERSATION |

Private insurance reliance means countries pay more for health care

Ian McAuley writes: Ahead of the May budget, health minister Peter Dutton has said he wants to start “a national conversation about modernising and strengthening Medicare”. A national conversation would be welcome, but is that what the government really intends? Or are we simply being softened up for an expansion of private health insurance? If so, the government [...]

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THE CONVERSATION |

Want Medicare savings? Stop paying for private hospitals

Peter Sivey writes: The polls this week suggest half of Australians think the Abbott government should reduce the cost of Medicare. My solution? Claw back some of the A$9 billion the government pays to private hospitals. Consider my experience … A few years ago I twisted my knee playing football. My GP, maybe after estimating my salary, suggested [...]

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THE CONVERSATION |

Toxic chemicals and pollutants affect kids’ brain development

Mark Taylor writes: The news that toxic chemicals may be triggering a rise in autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and dyslexia in the United States has rightly prompted concern among parents. But what contaminants are Australian children exposed to that might increase the risk of brain and developmental disorders? In 2006, US researchers Philippe Grandjean and Philip Landrigan [...]

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THE CONVERSATION |

Making the rich pay more isn’t the answer to a better Medicare

Stephen Duckett writes: Should the rich pay more for their health care? This question has raised its ugly head again after health minister Peter Dutton announced the Coalition government was considering more user-pays options – including a $6 co-payment for general practice visits – to get a hold on the rising health budget. The argument is that government benefits should [...]

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THE CONVERSATION |

Big Food lobbying: tip of the iceberg exposed

Gary Sacks writes: The influence of the food lobby has come into the public spotlight over the past week, with revelations that Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash’s chief-of-staff, Alastair Furnival, has strong links to the food industry. Furnival previously worked as a lobbyist for several food companies and is the co-owner of a firm that has represented [...] 

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THE CONVERSATION |

US chain CVS stops tobacco sales: over to you, Coles and Woolworths

Craig Dalton writes: The announcement by CVS, one of the largest drug store chains in the United States, that it will cease selling tobacco by October this year will have Coles’ and Woolworths’ public relations in a spin. While CVS is a “pharmacy” that finally decided selling tobacco is incongruent with being a health service provider, it is [...]

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