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Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament

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How much does Medicare cost?

The Treasurer, Mr Hockey said on Channel Seven’s Sunrise program on 21 February 2014, that the cost of Medicare was going to soon rise from $65 billion a year to $75 billion a year. However, the official transcript later clarified this to include other federal health expenditure. Seeing Medicare in the context of these wider figures, it is evident the actual cost of Medicare is considerably lower. According to Budget Paper no. 1 (2013–14) spending on Medicare for the current financial year is estimated to be $19.0 billion and is forecast to grow to $23.6 billion in 2016–17. Medicare is the fourth most expensive program after payments to the states, support for ... Read more...

Evidence around GP co-payments and over servicing

One argument forwarded in support of the recent proposal to impose a co-payment for GP visits is that it has the potential to reduce ‘over servicing’, and therefore overall health costs. Over servicing occurs where an unnecessary medical intervention is provided. Imposing a consumer co-payment on the cost of visiting a doctor will encourage patients to avoid unnecessary visits, thus reducing over servicing and saving the health system money, argue advocates of co-payments. But what is the evidence that over servicing is a problem or that it is being driven by unnecessary consumer demand? Before proceeding, a distinction should be made between the extent of over servicing and th... Read more...

The missing billion? Revisions to health funding not unprecedented

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The Health Budget - a summary of pre-budget speculation and advocacy

On Budget eve, the Government has already made several announcements about the contents of the 2011-12 health Budget. There have been some announcements regarding capital expenditures. These include $220 million to Tamworth Hospital, redevelopments to Mt Gambier and Port Lincoln Hospitals, regional cancer centres for Albury/Wodonga and Geelong, $57 million for regional Western Australia and a Youth Health Hub for Colac.It has also said that a comprehensive dental plan will not be funded this year, although a 'down-payment' will be made. It should be noted that all of the health infrastructure projects that have so far been announced are the result of successful applications to the regional p... Read more...

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