Monday, 4 January 2016

Australian Health Minister and Liberal MP Sussan Ley has some explaining to do

It is bad enough that women in rural and regional areas comprise one third of all female cancer suffers and have on average poorer cancer survival rates than their metropolitan counterparts, now they face this as well...........

Perth Now, 27 December 2015:
WOMEN with breast cancer are being denied a Medicare rebate for expensive MRI scans which others with football injuries, headaches and back pain receive.
The rebate — rejected recently by the government’s Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC) — contributes to the bills of up to $30,000 many women face for their breast cancer.
“MSAC did not support public funding for these indications due to of uncertain clinical effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and financial impact” the committee ruled.
It reckoned approving a rebate for the test — worth up to $2000 — would cost the health system around $9 million.
It’s the latest example of Medicare failing cancer patients when they need it most….
Breast surgeon Professor Christobel Saunders one of the surgeons trying to obtain a Medicare rebate for MRIs says around one in 10 women have tumours that can’t be properly seen on mammograms or ultrasound….
“About 10 per cent of women require it and it helps us plan surgery and determine whether we need to do a lumpectomy or a mastectomy.”
“We know breast MRIs work. We have been using them for 20 years they are the most efficient way of telling the full size of the tumour,” she says.
Professor Saunders was part of a group of surgeons who made an application to the governments Medicare services advisory committee which determines which medical procedures attract a Medicare rebate.
She believes MSAC may have over-estimated the number of women who would get an MRI when deciding to reject the rebate.
MSAC granted a Medicare rebate for breast MRIs for just two of the eight indications requested.
It is recommended for women whose cancer had spread to the lymph nodes where conventional scans failed to show the source of the tumour.
And MRI guided biopsy is also recommended in patients with suspected breast cancer where the tumour only identifiable by MRI.
But it rejected breast cancer MRIs for six other indications.

Besides breast MRIs the Turnbull Government has slated another 22 Medicare items for removal from the rebate list in this round of cuts: another 6 diagnostic imaging items, 9 items in ear, nose, and throat surgery; 5 items in gastroenterology services, 1 obstetrics item and 1 thoracic medicine item.

Health Minister Sussan Ley is telling all and sundry that doctors themselves recommended these items, however the medical profession does not appear to be so uniform in opinion as Ley implies.

Given that December 2015's MYEFO contained more health funding cuts, the Liberal-Nationals ideological attacks on Medicare and free access to public health services appears set to continue until they have dismantled enough of the safety net system as will enable their MPs to commence creating an inequitable U.S. style health care system.

This is the type of medical treatment just such a system delivers:
Barbara Dawson via Twitter

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