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POLICY NEWS – FEBRUARY 2018

End of year is always a busy time for the government with lots of reports, consultations and issues on the boil.

Here is a summary of what has been happening and what’s currently under review in case you want to participate, make a submission or just get more information! Read on!

What consumers are being told about what to ask YOU!

If you’ve been asked any or all of the following questions, chances are your patient may have seen some of the Choosing Wisely consumer resources.

They’re great questions and ones to which both you and your registrar(s) should probably have the answer!

The website also has a list of recommendations from each of the participating colleges (including RACGP) on what tests, treatements and procedures providers and consumers ought to question, supported by relevant evidence. This in itself is a GREAT resource!

Check it out!

http://www.choosingwisely.org.au/recommendations

If you feel inspired by that, Choosing Wisely is currently seeking EOIs to be on the Choosing Wisely Australia Advisory Group for a 2 year term.

Find the application form here:

http://www.choosingwisely.org.au/news-and-media/media-centre/eois-to-join-advisory-group

Changes to codeine access for patients – be ready

Codeine will become a prescription only drug as of 1 February 2018.

Unsure of what to do? Why this is happening? How to explain it to your registrars or patients?

The decision is in line with 26 other countries which have taken similar action based on good scientific evidence.

Consult the Codeine information hub here:

https://www.tga.gov.au/codeine-info-hub

Closing the Gap Refresh – submissions open 

The 10th anniversary of the Close the Gap strategy sees only one of the targets met (Halve the gap for Indigenous Australians aged 20-24 in Year 12 or equivalent attainment by 2020) and only one of the remaining six targets on track and most not likely to be met.

The Commonwealth Government is consulting on the following questions to revise the strategy

To read the report or make a submission go here:

https://closingthegaprefresh.pmc.gov.au/about

National Alcohol Strategy 2018-2026 – submissions open

The report from the Department of Health has come under fire in some of the medical press.

The report covers national priority areas, collaboration and suggests a target of a 10% reduction in harmful alcohol consumption.

Judge for yourself. You may even want to make a submission by 11 February 2018.

Read the consultation draft here:

Consultation Draft National Alcohol Strategy 2018-2026 – PDF 1020 KB

To make a submission, email nationaldrugstrategy@health.gov.au.

 Private health insurance reform package October 2017- highlights

This package has a number of items of interest including changing coverage for some natural therapies, improving transparency of out-of-pocket costs to consumers and changes to private health insurers to cover travel and accommodation

Some of the work is just getting off the ground so here are some highlights.

Professor Brendan Murphy (Chief Medical Officer) has been given the unenviable task of leading the investigation into out-of-pocket costs and options to ensure consumers are better informed of fees BEFORE agreeing to treatment.

Unenviable because the recommendation from the Senate Committee is for a searchable website with practitioner fees listed. I feel an IT headache coming on!!

The committee has a raft of college and other stakeholder representatives on it but none from general practice.

The Advisory Committee is due to report in Oct-Dec 2018.

The private health insurance rebate for some natural therapies will no longer apply from 1 April 2019.

The list includes: Alexander technique, aromatherapy, Bowen therapy, Buteyko, Feldenkrais, herbalism, homeopathy, iridology, kinesiology, naturopathy, Pilates, reflexology, Rolfing, shiatsu, tai chi and yoga.

A victory for evidence-based medicine?

Some insurers currently offer travel and accommodation benefits only for medical treatment and only in top extras cover. This measure will enable insurers to offer travel and accommodation benefits under hospital cover as well.

A victory for regional and rural patients who currently don’t quite get the value out of their health insurance cover that urban consumers get due to lack of services?

Want further information on the package? You can access it here:

http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/private-health-insurance-fact-sheets