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Don’t believe the hype, teens are drinking less than they used to

Michael Livingston and Amy Pennay write: Ask your friends and colleagues about young Australians and alcohol and I bet they’ll say something about a generation out of control or a binge-drinking epidemic. The media regularly brings the worst outcomes of young people’s drinking to our attention and points to a problematic drinking culture supposedly unique to [...]

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Six challenges facing Australia’s medical research sector

This is an edited version of a speech about the challenges facing medical research given by outgoing National Health and Medicine Research Council (NHMRC) CEO Warwick Anderson at the National Press Club on Wednesday: It’s been a great privilege to have been the head of NHMRC for going on a decade. That’s four governments, six [...]

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The debate we’re yet to have about private health insurance

In the final instalment of The Conversation’s series Private health insurance in Australia, Lesley Russell, Adjunct Associate Professor at the Menzies Centre for Health Policy at the University of Sydney, asks whether Australians need private health insurance, and what a two-tiered system means for quality, access and equity: The six previous papers in this series highlight [...]

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Private health insurance ‘carrot and stick’ reforms have failed – here’s why

Anne-marie Boxall writes: If your workplace is anything like mine, this week’s private health insurance premium increases might prompt conversations that go something like this: Can you believe our private health insurance costs $421 a month – and we are all really healthy! Some people baulk at the cost of private insurance – especially the [...]

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The real health issues facing NSW, without the spin

Andrew Wilson writes: What happens when you bring a state health minister face-to-face with her two main challengers, fronting a roomful of health experts, without any TV cameras or dictaphones to leap on any “gaffes” or stumbles? What you can get is a genuinely informative debate, largely free of three-second soundbites. I saw this late [...]

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Time for policy rethink as frequent GP attenders account for 41% of costs

Stephen Duckett writes: The Commonwealth government’s big idea for primary health care in the past year was to charge everyone who visits the GP a A$7 co-payment. The idea had many problems – it could have led to a blowout in emergency department demand; it was inequitable; and it may not have worked anyway. It has [...]

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FactCheck: can you change a violent drinking culture by changing how people drink?

Peter Miller writes: “You can’t change a culture by simply changing drinking. It is, of course, justifiable to explore the effectiveness of small measures such as advertising restrictions, increases or decreases in price, relaxation or restriction of hours, but such things tinker at the margins of culture and it is doubtful that they will alter [...]

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For real health reform, turn the spotlight on specialists’ fees

With thanks to The Conversation for allowing us to cross publish this piece by Lesley Russell. By Lesley Russell, University of Sydney The impact of specialist fees on government and patient budgets has received little reform attention. This is despite the government’s push for controls in health-care spending and growing evidence of the affordability problems faced [...]

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Queensland health has a better outlook, so who deserves credit?

Andrew Wilson writes: It’s a sign of how much has changed in a few years that health has barely featured in the Queensland election campaign, despite being one of the issues that voters still say they care most about. That doesn’t mean that everything has gone smoothly in Queensland health over the past three years. But [...]

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The AMA and Medicare: a love-hate relationship

Lesley Russell writes: The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has emerged from the recent brouhaha over the Abbott government’s proposed Medicare reforms as both a winner in the protection of doctors’ incomes and an apparent champion of the affordability of health care for patients. [...] 

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