“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.
AMA National President Dr Michael Gannon has used his position to tweet offensive remarks about the euthanasia debate in Victoria where Parliament is set to vote on Voluntary Assisted Dying Legislation, suggesting that the debate is all about powerful people wanting change.
It seems that Dr Gannon is trying to emulate the offensive tweeting habits of Donald Trump, using his position to put his personal view forward and ignoring the fact that the medical profession is quite evenly split on this issue but are generally willing to debate without being so offensive.
It is disturbing that Dr Gannon is not respectful of different views of his members. Some are even considering resigning from the AMA because of his behaviour.
The Doctors Reform Society supports the proposed Victorian legislation and is pleased to note that the Victorian AMA is also very disappointed in Dr Gannon’s tweets to the point of apologising to Premier Andrews.
Dr Tim Woodruff Dr Con Cost
President Vice President
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The latest announcement by the Federal Government to entrench unpopular private health insurance ( PHI) should be seen for what it really is, a poor plan to shore up a bad product – which maintains unfairness and inequity in our health system, said Dr Tim Woodruff, president, Doctors Reform Society.
These changes completely ignore the fact that all Australians are dependent on the public health system at some stage, and that the PHI rebate of over $6 billion is being spent on a grossly inefficient and failed private insurance system, to help those who can afford it to jump the queue for their elective surgery.
What will happen to those who choose a lesser tier of the new system? If they get sick and have no money, they are left to a remaindered Medicare system or depending on the charity of the doctors?That’s how it was before Medicare.
This announcement sends a clear message to those who can’t afford PHI: you don’t matter, you deserve long waiting times because you can’t afford PHI.
It demonstrates the privatisation mentality of our leaders, and the complete lack of concern they have for a cheaper and more efficient universal health system. They are simply doing the bidding of the private health insurers. The proposed PHI changes are another major step towards the Americanisation of our health system, said Dr Woodruff.
Dr Tim Woodruff Dr Con Cost President Vice President
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This year’s budget claims to be about funding infrastructure and restoring fairness. The most important piece of infrastructure for the future of Australians is the people. The health of every Australian is vital for our country to progress. But almost all of the health measures in the budget are simply partial restorations of funding which has previously been slashed. It would appear this budget is designed simply to move health off the political agenda as much as possible.
Whilst extra funding for mental health and for research in primary health care is welcome, the paltry 3% increase in hospital funding is less than inflation, the Medicare rebate freeze will still remain in part for 3 years, there is no new funding for preventive health, for expansion of Primary Health Care networks to co-ordinate the chaotic health system patients have to negotiate, for dental care, or for the myriad supportive community based programs axed by the 2014 budget’s cut to flexible funding.
Funding for general practice is now becoming increasingly dependent on rents from pathology companies with multiple potential dangers as the Government attempts to reduce the cost of pathology.
Dr Tim Woodruff Dr Con Costa President Vice President
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“The report today that specialists are charging large copayments which inevitably stop patients seeing them is further evidence that governments have little thought for the financial struggle for many patients to access quality health care” said Dr Tim Woodruff, president, Doctors Reform Society. “A second report today from the Grattan Institute show sthe Federal Government could save $445 million yearly if they payed (using our taxes) world market prices for prescriptions. With such savings we could be reducing prescription copayments rather than increasing them.”
“The report card on public hospital performance released by the Australian Medical Association (AMA) yesterday showing a nationwide deterioration in the capacity of those hospitals to care for the 54% of Australians without private health insurance”, said Dr Tim Woodruff, president, Doctors Reform Society. “These are real people with major health problems. Many could be working, increasing Australia’s productivity. Many could be managing to live without the support of their relatives, releasing them to add to Australia’s productivity. They have been forgotten by a parsimonious Federal Government which can easily find extra taxes to subsidise private health insurance but not to pay its share of public hospital funding. These patients’ preventable pain and suffering is ignored.”
“The news of a likely 5% private health insurance hike again this year means another $250 million in taxes gifted to the very profitable private health insurance industry whose leaders are enjoying a 30% plus rise in remuneration over the last few years, said Dr Tim Woodruff, president,” Doctors Reform Society. “It comes as ongoing research (the Household Financial Comfort Report) shows unsurprisingly that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting relatively poorer.”
“Meanwhile the Federal Government’s continues its heartless punishment of Centrelink welfare recipients irrespective of whether they are defrauding or not, leading to completely unnecessary and stressful situations for some of the most vulnerable in the community, some of whom are almost certainly on 3 year public hospital waiting lists, never dreaming of taxpayer subsidised private health insurance.”
In his maiden speech in 2002, the new Health Minister Greg Hunt stated,
‘The next expansion in private health coverage is, I believe, through employer incentives for the inclusion of health care in workplace arrangements’
If anyone doubted the true agenda of the Coalition is to turn our health system into a United States style grossly unfair two tiered health system, this comment makes it clear that he is not a believer in universal health care and a fair go for everyone, but rather that he believes Medicare should be a second rate safety net.