The government are about to slash Medicare rebates for a number of key medical services and it is inevitable that at least some of this cost is going to passed on to patients either by the breakdown of ‘bulk billed’ out patient services or the demise of many ‘no-gap’ arrangements for inpatient and day case services. I’ve just received mailing from a major pathology provider showing that the fee for ‘pathology initiation’ i.e. a blood test, has been cut by about 5% (after a cut of about 2%) last year, and the fees for angiography, a fundamental test for diagnosing coronary artery disease that causes angina and heart attacks, are going to be cut by 20%! Put this in perspective…pathology fees have been pretty static for 20 years during which time the CPI has risen by about 150%.

Crikey was wrong to suggest Julie Bishop is backing Dennis Jensen in Tangney. Bishop may have been supporting Jensen while Northern Alliance candidate Matt Brown was in the picture but then he didn’t nominate. Word is Bishop and ex-President Danielle Blain will now back — albeit covertly — the only female candidate Libby Lyons… who just happens to come from their home division of Curtin. The fact the Northern Alliance is not keen on Lyons makes the Bishop-Blain backing even more logical. With a preselection not due until August this could get very messy.

I just looked at the latest swine flu update and was shocked to see Taiwan is excluded from the list of countries and shoehorned in as “Chinese Taipei”! What is this rubbish? Is the WHO an impartial organization or can I assume that the Chinese government has considerable influence over the WHO. For a global organization to negate the existence of a country with a population of 22 MILLION people, this is absurd, and very disturbing!

The Victorian budget has caused some interesting heartburn for TAFE Institutes. Only $3 million for capital works but $66 million for new student admin software instead. At a time when many TAFE Institutes are overflowing and buildings and equipment needing replacement the government has put all its money into developing an unwanted (except by the IT companies involved) and unnecessary computer system (Shades of MyKi — spending money on computer software instead of desperately needed infrastructure).

When digital radio begins in July, it is planned that ABC Radio National will be a mono signal at less than 40kbps. And there are no plans for a better service. So this is the great leap into “a superior listening experience” we’ve been promised by the ABC for years. They told us to wait for something that would be better than FM Stereo — hardly. Radio National currently produces the most expensive stereo productions of features and drama as well as live music of any network in ABC Radio, what a shame we won’t hear them like they were meant to be heard.

Cumberland Industries has gone in to administration. It employs 540 disabled people. One for SackWatch.

Peter Fray

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