Pure Poison IconThe Australian runs with a difficult to believe (if you’ve ever dealt with the organisation) claim about extraordinary alleged Medicare payouts:

Tony Webber claims… that the safety net has been used to “subsidise cosmetic procedures such as surgery for ‘designer vaginas’ at $5000-$6000 each”.

Well that’s a freebie for every shock jock wanting to pretend that Medicare is overfunded and frivolous, instead of cash-strapped and unable to fund many necessary procedures.

Except… really? “Designer vaginas”? At $5-6000 each? Under which Medicare category does that fit? When did that happen? Which doctors made that claim? Was it paid out, or clawed back? Are we talking about a strange operation that is covered by Medicare but shouldn’t be (unlikely) or a case of fraud, that’s been caught?

I mean – that’s not a normal Medicare charge, is it? And if not, what happened? How did they get away with it? WHAT IS THE FREAKING STORY? Did it even happen?

The AMA was doubtful:

AMA president Steve Hambleton said Dr Webber’s style and language were overblown, and he had not previously heard any suggestion that the safety net — set up as catastrophe insurance — had been used to cover cosmetic treatments, let alone highly controversial genital procedures for non-medical reasons.

And yet the piece as published in The Australian includes none of writer Adam Cresswell’s no doubt vigorous journalism on the subject. You know, the bit where he followed up with Dr Webber by asking him point blank to back up his claim, and then noted down the details for verification, and then checked them himself, and if he found that it had happened where he then discovered how and why… so that the people reading his article who weren’t the sort of partisan readers who’d happily pretend to believe anything as long as it bashed a public service whose community support they resent, would have some basis for taking it seriously.

That critical part of Cresswell’s article is completely missing, and of course we blame anonymous subs at The Australian, who must have, for some flimsy reason, excised it.

Damn subs, leaving us with no way to tell whether the crazy claim is true, and something we should demand answers from our politicians about – or a cynical, nasty fiction. And making Adam look like he hasn’t done his job, even though we here at Pure Poison are absolutely sure that he did.

They should be ashamed of themselves.

UPDATE: The original sentence “so that the people reading his article who weren’t partisan hacks who’d happily pretend to believe anything as long as it bashed a public service whose community support they resent, would have some basis for taking it seriously” has been amended in a spirit of good faith to make it doubly clear – in case anyone misunderstood it as implying that we were calling the writer of the article a “partisan hack” – that we were referring to the sort of audience that would accept the sorts of claims referred to in the article without question.

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