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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

AMA: money talks « Previous | |Next »
July 29, 2007

This is the speech given by AMA President, Dr Rosanna Capolingua, to the National Press Club, last week. I was interested in it as I had visited the GP last week and experienced a bad time.Though the GP was a referral mechanism my need for yearly checks ups for skin and prostrate cancer was questioned. I was sucking their Medicare dry.

I fought the GP who had not read my file for the followup referrals, and it cost me over $50. This was charged to my credit card and I would need to wait for several weeks for the refund to be posted. The GP was being paid to be the gatekeeper to the health system. There was little to no interest in preventative care.

I was also interested to read what the AMA considers the health issues to be in the federal election, as little--nothing---is being said about health by either side. A number of issues are canvassed by Capolingua in the speech: Indigenous Health, overseas trained doctors, public hospitals, aged care, rural health, national registration, Medicare easy claim and it is acknowledged that health health policy is the ‘sleeper’ in this election.

So things looked promising.

I was curious about Medicare Easypay It sounded good as the idea is that the patient will be able to get their Medicare rebate at the point of service when they pay the practice account. Just like the private health funds do when I see the chiropractor for preventative care.So where does the AMA stand?

Opposed, even though Capolingua starts the speech by saying that for the AMA patient care is the primary driver always has as its primary driver and in the forefront of doctors minds. Here's the relevant bit of the speech:

Patients will have to wait while the doctors’ receptionists need to spend more time processing each patient. I can see mums with one sick kid on the hip and a toddler running away, trying to pull out three cards – credit card, Medicare card and debit card - at the front counter to have the account processed. if it takes only one extra minute per patient, this could be an extra three hours work per day in a busy four-doctor practice. So far, some practices have got it down to four minutes a patient! That makes 12 hours a day! There will be additional keying in, and processing failures of up to 20 per cent as now occurs, and the system will take a long, long time and more staff and more EFTPOS terminals to reach efficiency. Remember the Medicare queue? I do not want my patients to suffer that in my surgery.

What? That reads as if the AMA want to be paid by Medicare to process the transactions far more than a concern for patient care.

This interpretation is supported by Jason Koutsoukis who was present at the speech in the National Press Club. He says:

It took a while, but eventually Capolingua let the cat out of the bag.The real reason the AMA doesn't like Easyclaim is because they want some extra cash in their pockets every time they process a payment — about $1 per transaction which, if you add up how many patients the average GP sees each year, could turn into quite a nice little earner funded by taxpayers. It turns out that pharmacists get a 40-cent transaction fee every time they process a pharmaceutical benefits scheme claim and the doctors want to be compensated, too.

So there you have it. Medical politics. It's about power not patient care.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 6:37 PM | | Comments (2)


What a singularity!
Here you are, just happening to slip in- scuse pun- mention of prostate checks when such an appropriate cartoon just happens to be "up" in the following post, depicting Dick Cheney performing just such a procedure on George Bush. Doesn't young George look particularly frisky after that conveniently coincidental surgery for polyp-removal (ouucchh!!)!

Home surgery is the go! Its quite amazing what a few kitchen implements and Google can achieve. Yes! and the car jumper leads do make rather a nifty arse clamping device.