Category Archives: Health

BERNARD MACLEOD Youth Suicide

Our new government is making the elimination of youth suicide a focus of health policy under Minister Greg Hunt. However, billions of dollars of investment over the years has failed to reduce the numbers of those taking their own lives. … Continue reading

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TIM WOODRUFF. Health Policy: Where to Now?

The recent election result was a major disappointment for those interested in improving the health of the nation. The re-election of the Coalition promises an ongoing increase in support for private health insurance as the Government continues its long-term agenda of … Continue reading

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LESLEY RUSSELL. Restraining the Free Market That is Specialty Medicine

The past week has seen a series of media articles about how some people must fund raise to cover the cost of expensive brain cancer surgery and a paper released from the Actuaries Institute, How to Make Private Health Insurance … Continue reading

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JOHN DWYER An open letter to Minister Greg Hunt

  The majority of Labor’s plans for our health system were greeted with enthusiasm herein and elsewhere as they addressed major current inadequacies that diminish the equity and cost effectiveness of the health care available to Australians. Labor did seek … Continue reading

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CHARLOTTE PALMER. Is the Australian War Memorial a place of healing?

Dr Brendan Nelson, director of the Australian War Memorial, has defended the expansion of the Memorialas a way to provide a ‘therapeutic milieu’ for veterans and their families. Critics say the obscenely large amount of $498 million is needed, not … Continue reading

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PETER SAINSBURY. How do the parties’ environmental policies compare?

If climate change is going to influence your vote this Saturday you may want to know how the three main political parties’ environment policies shape up. Here are three scorecards to help you decide who to favour with your vote.

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IAN WEBSTER. US opioid epidemic: a warning to Australia?

Two ABC documentaries – ‘Opioid America’, Foreign Correspondent, 19th March and on TV Tonight, Louis Theroux, April 2nd portrayed the cycle of addiction in damaged US communities with no hope or future. Both were in West Virginia where opioid deaths … Continue reading

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FIONA ARMSTRONG. Health groups release climate policy scorecard: Coalition earns 0/8

The national coalition of health groups working for climate action, Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA), has released a Federal Election Scorecard after analysing the parties’ policies on climate change and health. 

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RICHARD DAY Pharmacy Guild Out Muscles Government Again

Most medicines on the pharmaceutical benefits scheme (PBS) are for chronic, conditions that affect one in two Australians and include conditions such as hypertension, raised cholesterol and type II diabetes. Treatment invariably involves medications, often multiple, adding significant costs to … Continue reading

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ALEXANDER HOLDEN and HEIKO SPALLEK. Labor’s Pensioner Dental Plan: Long in the Tooth or a Novel Idea? 

A step in the right direction for Australia’s oral health? Following the release of the Grattan Institute’s report; Filling the gap: A universal dental care scheme for Australia, we have seen the Greens announce their policy of a universal dental scheme, “Denticare” … Continue reading

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Zali Steggall takes on Tony Abbott over hospitals-to-tax-haven deal (Michael West)

Tony Abbott has come under pressure from Warringah independent, Zali Steggall, over the Government’s decision to approve the sale of the new Northern Beaches Hospital, and 42 other Australian hospitals, to an obscure company in the Cayman Islands.

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RAY MOYNIHAN, PAUL GLASZIOU. We need new rules for defining who is sick. Step 1: remove vested interests (The Conversation)

Did you know the definition of high blood pressure (hypertension) in the United States was recently greatly expanded? Overnight, tens of millions of people were reclassified, leaving one in every two adults with a diagnosis of hypertension. The move has … Continue reading

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MICHAEL THORN. Writing on the wall for unhealthy advertising

Regulation in this country around the advertising of unhealthy products – alcohol, junk food and gambling – is a hodgepodge of black letter law; codes of practice; industry voluntary schemes; and policy-led arrangements variously administered by the Commonwealth, states/territories and … Continue reading

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GRAEME STEWART. Major holes in Medicare.

For a very large and growing number of poorer Australians, the high out-of-pocket expenses for medical care in Australia to which Ross Gittins refers (SMH ‘Prevention is better than cure’, April 24), are tearing major holes in the safety net … Continue reading

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FIONA ARMSTRONG. Who will address the health emergency of climate change?

Climate change causes many health problems and will have enormous impacts on Australia’s health system. Yet most Australian governments have been slow to prepare the health services for the inevitable challenges. Fifty health, social welfare and conservation groups, representing over … Continue reading

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TIM WOODRUFF. Health Policy and Successful Politics.

Health policy reform is difficult. There are an abundance of powerful stakeholders whose number one priority is definitely not optimum health care for all Australians. But most Australians do share the view that our health care system (which isn’t really … Continue reading

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H.K. COLEBATCH. What’s wrong with the APS?

The Thodey review has stimulated a wide variety of diagnoses of what’s wrong with the APS, but one has been missed.  Could it be that its problem is hubris?

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JOHN DWYER. Politics and anti-science. Hunt’s pathetic “Flip-Flop” on the use of Taxpayer’s dollars to pay for “Alternative” Medicine

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NH&MRC) is Australia’s pre-eminent provider of advice on science and health to government and the community. Concerned that taxpayer’s dollars might be wasted subsidising private health insurance payments for a range of “Alternative”clinical … Continue reading

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TIM WOODRUFF. Cancer is horrible; so is death from any cause.

The Opposition Leader has announced the biggest investment in Medicare for a generation, $2.3 billion to be spent eliminating the co-payments faced by those with cancer who see specialists, need diagnostic imaging and radiotherapy. It is also guaranteeing all new … Continue reading

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JOHN DWYER – Will the health initiatives announced last week significantly and sustainably improve health care for Australians?

  Given that polls constantly have Australians saying that healthcare is a top issue in every election, expectations are high that our politicians will describe a commitment to those structural reforms so badly needed to improve equity of access to … Continue reading

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LESLEY RUSSELL: The Budget as an Election Campaign Document

This year’s Government budget documents and the Opposition’s response are budgetary in name only – they should be seen as election campaign commitments. As such, they provide a telling story about the parties’ focus on health and healthcare and the … Continue reading

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JOHN DWYER Chiropractic manipulation of infant’s spine

Recently social media and then the mainstream media exploded with outrage following the publication of a photo showing a Melbourne chiropractor “treating” a newborn baby by suspending the child in midair, holding its foot high as it thrashed around in … Continue reading

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JOHN MENADUE. The Australian Pharmacy Guild continues to dud taxpayers and patients.

In last night’s budget the Government had been proposing to deliver cheaper medicines by doubling the number of medications that could be dispensed from a single prescription  for conditions such as high blood pressure and cholesterol. Taxpayers and patients would … Continue reading

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JOHN MENADUE. Labor’s proposed Australian Health Reform Commission is a welcome start.

For many years several of us in Pearls and Irritations have argued that we need an independent and professional health commission to lead an informed public discussion on health issues and recommend to the Commonwealth Government and COAG on how … Continue reading

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TIM WOODRUFF. Out of Pocket Costs: Who is missing out on health care?

One of my patients has epilepsy. She sees a neurologist for that and he charges $200 out of pocket per visit. He has controlled her epilepsy very well. She is on a disability support pension. She believes she will get … Continue reading

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ALEXANDER HOLDEN and HEIKO SPALLEK. Laying Out the Road Map for an Australian Universal Dental Scheme

Can you imagine an Australia where visiting a dentist was as simple as visiting a GP? The Grattan Institute has released a report: Filling the dental gap: A universal dental scheme for Australia, that does just this. The report begins … Continue reading

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JOHN DWYER. Health Reform’s “Holy Grail”;Medicare must fund the “team Medicine” approach to Primary Care.

  Surely my disgust at the Coalition’s decision to spend more than a billion dollars re-opening the Christmas Island detention centre to make sure that none of those nasty murderers, rapists and paedophiles ever get to real Australia for any … Continue reading

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HEIKO SPALLEK and ALEXANDER HOLDEN. Oral health – an essential component of a healthy life.

“Oral health is fundamental to overall health, wellbeing and quality of life. It is an important part of general health, affecting not only the individual, but also the broader health system and economy.” So says the 2017 Performance Monitoring Baseline … Continue reading

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JENNIFER DOGGETT and LESLEY RUSSELL. Tackling Out-of-Pocket Costs

  At the end of February the Federal Government released the report, twelve months in the making, from the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Out-of-Pocket Costs and outlined a national strategy to tackle excessive out-of-pocket costs. It is our opinion that … Continue reading

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PETER BROOKS. Will teenagers’ involvement in the climate change debate be a ‘game changer’?

March 15 has been flagged as a coordinated day of school strikes by teenagers around the world. Let us hope that they will start a new movement to bring home the urgency for real action around the world, but particularly … Continue reading

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