The Doctors Reform Society (DRS) is an organisation of doctors and medical students promoting measures to improve health for all, in a socially just and equitable way. The Society was formed in 1973 to support a proposal for a publicly-funded universal health insurance system. Medibank (now Medicare) was successfully created despite opposition from the Australian Medical Association.
All members’ views are valued, and open debate on all health issues is encouraged both within and outside the organisation. The DRS functions as a medico-political think tank, a lobby group and a public resource centre.
Membership of the Doctors’ Reform Society is open to all medical practitioners and medical students who believe that everyone, regardless of their social or economic status, should have access to high quality healthcare.Click here to find out more about membership
The 2017 National DRS Conference was held in Melbourne in September. Tim Woodruff started the day with an expansion of his article about a Basic Income Guarantee as a health issue (see articles). Dr Harry Jennens founder of Healthy Futures then told us about the climate and health case for divestment and his organisation’s work in lobbying superannuation funds to divest.
Tony McBride, a previous chair of the Australian Health Care Reform Alliance, and currently a director of the Eastern Melbourne Primary Health Network (PHN) helped us to understand how the PHNs are evolving and their opportunities and challenges. Harry Lovelock, Senior Executive Manager from the Australian Psychological Society then gave us a very broad picture of the successes and failures of mental health policy over recent years.Read more here
“It is disappointing to see reports in the Australian over the last three days indicating a reluctance on the part of the Australian Medical Association (AMA), and a lack of urgency from the Health Minister Mr Hunt about addressing the difficulties patients have trying to find out and compare the charges to see specialists and have procedures performed,” said Dr Tim Woodruff, president, Doctors Reform Society.
In 1970, conservative republican US President Richard Nixon introduced a health bill into the American Congress. It passed but was defeated in the Senate. He didn’t realise it was a health bill, nor did many of his fellow politicians. It was called the Family Assistance Plan, a guaranteed income for families with children, not adequate to bring the income up to the poverty line, but substantially more than was previously on offer.
It required the breadwinner to accept work if available. Thus it was targeted, conditional, and inadequate by itself to eliminate poverty, but it was a huge change in thinking from a conservative leader in the United States. It came with this impressive rhetoric
“Initially this new system will cost more than welfare, but unlike welfare this is designed to correct the condition it deals with and thus lessen the long range burden and cost.”