August, 2015

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How the battle over biologics helped stall the Trans Pacific Partnership

, Aug 06, 2015

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Deborah Gleeson and Ruth Lopert write: Talks that were meant to finalise the Trans Pacific Partnership wound up in Hawaii late last week without reaching a final deal. Over the last five years, 12 countries – Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam – have been […]

A call for clarity in policy around drugs known as “biosimilars”

, Jun 22, 2015

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee and the Therapeutic Goods Administration have been urged to clarify their policies around “biosimilars” – drugs which act in the same way as patented biological drugs, although they may not be exactly the same. Dr Ruth Lopert, who was the TGA’s Principal Medical Adviser from 2008-2011 and Director of the […]
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The Health Wrap: A budget health check; medical school war of words; eyes on Ebola; pharmacy deal dispensed; all things equal

, May 24, 2015

                This week’s Health Wrap is compiled by my colleague Megan Howe, the Sax Institute’s Publications Manager. Enjoy the Wrap and tweet us via @medicalmedia or @meghowe68 if you have any ideas for future issues. By Megan Howe A budget health check The Federal Budget’s impact on health […]

Prof Andrew Wilson announced as new Chair for Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC)

, May 22, 2015

(Note from Melissa Sweet on 24 May: See bottom of post for a comment by Professor Andrew Wilson on his appointment). Health Minister Sussan Ley today announced the appointment of Professor Andrew Wilson as the new Chair of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC), the independent expert body whose primary role is to recommend new […]
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Memo to Canberra: How are other countries finding billions for health care? Ending fossil fuel subsidies

, May 22, 2015

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There’s confusion about what is or isn’t on the table for cuts after Health Minister Sussan Ley conceded the Senate won’t pass increased patient contributions for PBS drugs, but said the $1 billion ‘savings’ will have to be found elsewhere. See more below for how it unfolded. But if the Minister and the Federal Government […]
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Not all “Captain Chaos” but much confusion, concern on post-Budget health issues

, May 19, 2015

There’s plenty of confusion, contention and concern emerging still out of last week’s Federal Budget on health, with particular uncertainty around after hours GP services. Here’s a quick wrap on some of the issues – complete with glossy illustration from the government’s (once far more dreary-looking) official Budget website pages. Health doesn’t get a big […]
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What’s missing from #Budget15 – a future for Medicare

, May 14, 2015

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The impact of rebate freezes, the need for improved access to dental care and medicines and the expansion of private health insurance into primary health care have all been ignored in this Budget as part of the Government’s covert goal to destroy Medicare and reinstate a two-tier health system, according to Tim Woodruff, Vice president, Doctors Reform Society. *** Tim Woodruff […]
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Health Budget 2015-16 – underwhelming at best

, May 13, 2015

After the drama of last year’s ‘slash and burn’ Budget, the Abbott Government’s second Federal Budget was designed to underwhelm the health sector and in this respect at least it delivered.  In fact, the lack of organisation at the Department of Health lock-up appeared to bother some groups more than the $2 billion of cuts […]
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#Budget2015: Health takes a hit, devil may be in the detail – rolling reactions

, May 12, 2015

Health has taken another hit in the 2015-16 Federal Budget, with nearly $2 billion cut from the health system over the next five years. There’s particular concern around $1 billion in “savings” from a range of flexible funds and grants for preventative health research, chronic disease prevention and rural outreach (click twice to enlarge pic below), […]
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Federal Budget Preview

, May 12, 2015

With the 2015-16 Federal Budget only hours away, Croakey has prepared the following summary of the announcements already made in the health portfolio and compared these against the recommendations made by key organisations in their Federal Budget submissions.   While some of the requests from the sector have already fully or partially met (indicated below) through […]
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MBS/PBS/over-the-counter reviews as Opposition calls for focus on Choosing Wisely, Medical Homes

, Apr 27, 2015

Health Minister Sussan Ley has confirmed the Federal Government is looking at removing subsidies from over-the-counter medicines like paracetamol, aspirin, and antacids that can be bought without a prescription and allowing pharmacies to discount the patient co-payment as part of negotiations over the Community Pharmacy Agreement. See her weekend announcement of the review of the […]
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Tony Abbott’s Medicare “deforms” or How to Trick Senators 1.01

, Dec 16, 2014

The Federal Government’s co-payments Plan B will add another layer of co-payment complexity to the Medicare system that neither doctors nor patients fully understand now. That raises a whole range of issues around unintended consequences, particularly for patients but also for our system, which has prompted this appeal to the Senate to learn from what’s […]
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Antibiotic Awareness Week: On the path to least resistance

, Nov 18, 2014

This post below from Professor John Turnidge,  Senior Medical Advisor at the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, marks Antibiotic Awareness Week (Nov 17-23). It outlines how the Commission’s release of the Antimicrobial Stewardship Clinical Care Standard is another significant step along the path to ‘least antibiotic resistance’, but reports also on […]

Simulation and scepticism: reflections on road blocks to integrated health care

, Nov 06, 2014

Croakey recently published this report on an Integrated Care Simulation run by the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) in Canberra that invited around 85 health leaders to come together to road test three major potential health policy initiatives: the introduction of bundled care packages for people with chronic diseases a role for private health […]
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Outsourcing Medicare: Is it as easy as π?

, Sep 09, 2014

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Following on from the range of issues raised by Croakey contributors about the outsourcing of MBS and PBS payments, Margaret Faux discusses the most appropriate role for the private sector in supporting core government functions and the risks involved when private sector interests conflict with the central role of government. She writes: In a U.S […]
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And still the evidence and argument mount against a $7 GP co-payment.

, Aug 24, 2014

The Senate’s Community Affairs References Committee on Friday published its findings on out of pocket costs in Australian healthcare, saying that imposing additional costs would make it harder for people, particularly in vulnerable groups to access primary care, which would not only be at the cost of their own health but to the whole system, […]

Unhealthy haste? What are the implications of outsourcing Medicare, PBS claims and services?

, Aug 19, 2014

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Less than two weeks ago the Federal Government called for Expressions of Interest (EOI) from the private sector to provide claims and payment services for Medicare (MBS) and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), a $29 billion operation currently managed by the Department of Human Services. The EOI closes this Friday, 22 August. Such a privatisation […]
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GP co-payments – deregulation of the bulk billing market.

, Jul 09, 2014

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In this second of a series of posts about Medicare, Margaret Faux  looks at how perverse financial incentives, the increased financial pressure applied to pensioners and GPs and the lack of supporting infrastructure make the Federal Government’s $7 GP co-payment proposal a high risk venture.  See her first post here. *** Margaret Faux writes: The […]

On the risks of private health cover of GP visits & the need for a “real” national conversation on health

, Jun 23, 2014

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In this post below, public policy expert John Menadue agrees with Health Minister Peter Dutton that we need a national conversation about health. He disagrees however that we are having one, saying we are instead seeing an “ill-considered and ideologically driven course” on both co-payments and the prospect of private health insurers being able to […]
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#Budget2014 medical research fund is “unfair and unethical”

, May 19, 2014

Prime Minister Tony Abbott declared on ABC Radio National’s Breakfast program this morning: “There are no cuts to health or education. In health, all of the money we are saving is going into the Medical Research Investment Fund and that’s going to be dedicated to finding the treatments and the cures of the future that […]