Published Letters

18th Apr 2017

Medicare safety net a Coalition gimmick

The Age
By: Dr Tim Woodruff

The abuse of the extended Medicare safety net is no surprise (The Age, 15/4). When it was introduced by John Howard, the Victorian branch of the Australian Medical Association detailed in its monthly newsletter how a psychiatrist could make more money without any extra care or cost to the patient. Also, most of the money spent through the safety net goes to rich electorates. Very little goes to patients in poor electorates. The scheme has helped many doctors financially but was a gimmick designed to fool people into believing the Coalition cared about out-of-pocket costs. In fact, the Medicare rebate freeze sends a clear message this government wants patients to pay more out of their pocket.

Dr Tim Woodruff, Doctors Reform Society

26th Apr 2016

Vanstone Ley Selective Efficiency

By: Dr Tim Woodruff

Published in the age on Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Amanda Vanstone claims the Health Minister understands efficiency  (Comment, 25/4). However, Sussan Ley’s view of efficiency is selective. Documented savings of $1 billion per year would be made if the government paid world market prices for pharmaceuticals. But it refuses to tackle the issue and continues to receive donations from the pharmaceutical industry. Also, some $8 billion is spent on the inefficient private health insurance rebate.

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26th Apr 2016

Selective efficiency

By: Dr Tim Woodruff

Published in Australian on Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The claim that there are huge unnecessary costs in the health system is one we have been pointing out for years. It is encouraging that the Federal Government is showing some limited interest in this issue. The approach however, is half hearted. It continues to ignore the $1 billion savings which could be achieved if our Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme paid world market prices for drugs. Thus for the the breast cancer treatment Arimidex, the taxpayer  pays 30 times more than in Britain, and for cholesterol lower drugs it costs 10 times as much in Australia than in both Britian and New Zealand. But pharmaceutical companies are good political donors.

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27th Feb 2016

Health minister’s prostheses cost inquiry welcomed but……..

By: Dr Tim Woodruff

Published in smh on Saturday, February 27, 2016

It’s great to see the Minister for Health, Sussan Ley, asking why prostheses such as hip replacements and pacemakers cost so much more than world market prices in the private system (“Prosthetic procedure cost disparity targeted“, February 26).

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11th Feb 2016

Medicare sell off: where’s the care factor?

By: Dr Tim Woodruff

Published in Age on Thursday, February 11, 2016

Reports that the Medicare and related billing systems may be privatised should send a shudder through the hearts of all Australians who struggle daily with the changes due to the otherwise amazing technology (“PM rolls dice on Medicare”, 10/2). Read more

1st Dec 2015

Money, the bottom line

By: Dr Tim Woodruff

Published in the Age on Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Money, the bottom line

The federal government’s changes to how mental health care is delivered are indeed welcome although somewhat belated (Editorial, 30/11). But there is no new funding to enable the changes to be implemented.

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11th Nov 2015

Punishing the poor

By: Dr Tim Woodruff

Published in the Age on Wednesday, November 11, 2015

While the federal government considers attacking nicotine addicts with less access to private healthcare and forcing them on to the underresourced public system, the opposition considers attacking the hip pockets of such addicts to fund education.

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6th Nov 2015

Two-tier health system

By: Dr Tim Woodruff

Published in the Age on Friday, November 6, 2015

The cuts to public hospital funding were brought in by Joe Hockey’s first budget (“Health cuts equal to closing two hospitals”, 5/11). They are Tony Abbott’s legacy. The purpose was to pressure states into supporting a rise in the GST and to further erode public confidence in public hospitals. This in turn leads to increased reliance on private hospitals.

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