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Monday, September 06, 2004

Tinkering with Health, Howard on Women

Bugger is the word.  I'm a simplistic sort of chap who understands simple things.  I am not an expert on healthcare, but I know that in England I can see a trusted family doctor for free.  In Australia I can't.  Now apparently this is all to do with this mystical "bulk-billing" method of reimbursing doctors.  It seems the higher the bulk billing rate, the more "free" doctors there are.  The ALP policy carries incentives for doctors to bulk bill, but if they don't the patient misses out.  The Liberals give all doctors a boost regardless of the bulk billing, so in theory everyone could win unless the doctors absorb the extra money.  Both policies appear to be just tinkering around the edges.  My own doctor stopped bulk billing some time ago, his complaint being that the scheduled fees had not risen for some time.  So wouldn't the answer be to lift the schedule fee rate for medical services and take the patient (or customer as I was once annoyingly called) out of the whole claiming, billing loop?  The doctor would in effect be paid directly by the government at a rate that can sustain the doctor in the lifestyle to which he or her is accustomed.  If you did that properly, there would be no need for the "Super Smart Pro Medicare Safety Net Plus" as no one would incur medical costs in the first place.  Simple, yes; expensive, so what.

So all in all a tinker from both sides, though not as shite as the dodgy $600 (redeemable only at Harvey Norman) one off payments that "customers" are about to receive.

This morning on AM John Howard was questioned on the soon to be announced ALP tax policy and the family tax benefit reform.  His reaction was to scrutinise for potential "discrimination" against women who "choose" to work at home while their children are young.  What he didn't mention is the overall pressure his government has put on taking that choice away.  No big spending on child care and a family tax benefit scheme that is tantamount to income splitting, clearly signals what he wants.  Keep the Sheila's at home.  No if only he hadn't buggered up housing affordability (first time buyers grant) maybe his dream would come true. 

What will the ALP tax policy be?  Ooh, the excitement.  One thing to bear in mind however, is that when the brackets are changed for the lower marginal rates, the rich also benefit.

Looking at my referrals list makes the site look like a subsidiary to John Quiggin Enterprises.  In order to show that this site still maintains editorial independence, I will take my proprietor to task over his Welfare Reform posting.  I'm not quite sure what his argument is so here is mine.  Welfare is a band aid solution to flaws in social policy.  However it is necessary, and while it is there some people will take advantage of it.  I would rather it be in place and be generous as it reduces the chance of someone nicking my TV.  I can put up with a few bludgers, knowing that if hard times hit people will be assisted.  The main answer to this problem is education, education, education.

Elsewhere: Back Pages features a natty poll graph which makes voting look like a particle accelerator, SCTTW nicely takes apart Downer and his sudden Road to Mayo voting booths revelation on Hicks,  Lord Sedgewick has a cracker of a cartoon depicting what someone will do with their $600 Harvey Norman vouchers.

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