The following matters are currently absorbing our efforts. If you can help with
information or suggestions on any of these topics please email us.
Transport Costs: An ALP government in NSW appears to be in the thrall of the economic "user
pays' conservatives who inhabit the State Treasury. It thus looks as if public transport is to cost a
lot more soon. transport is a health issue and MCA has made a submission to the Ministerial
Inquiry that closes at the end of June 2003.
Defending Medicare: MCA committee members are attending meetings of the Save Medicare
Alliance that formed in early 2003 to try to combat the planning of the Federal Government. Having
failed to increase use of private medical cover via the expensive and wasteful carrot of a tax
subsidy on premiums the 'stick' approach now looms up as Parliament is to be asked to vote to
reduce Medicare to a welfare safety net system. This will allow in time a shift to an American two
'class' healthcare system which will produce higher profits for private sector medical services and
allow what is left of Medicare to be degraded into a system that people are scared to use, so
acting as a form of blackmail to force more Australians to take out private cover.
System Dynamics models as web based lobbying tools: To assist the Oral Health Alliance,
MCA is seeking to develop a web publishing capability that will allow some issues in consumer
services to be better argued in a quantitative sense. Our aim is to use java applets on webpages,
so allowing visitors to interact with the numerical realities of a social issue. The first project relates
to governmental responsibility for dental health. With the substantial withdrawal of the Federal
Government from funding dental care for low income people problems are emerging as tooth decay
causes other health problems and increased costs.
The issue in essence is should the mouth be recognised by Medicare as being part of the human
body or not ?
Currently governments here take the view that bad teeth are 'self inflicted damage' and nothing to
do with them or Medicare.
Or presenting the issue in another way: Are the medical costs (such as increased rates of heart
trouble) flowing from having bad teeth larger than the funds that would need to be expended on
welfare dental care services in order to allow low income people to have access to more adequate
oral hygine and access to dental care services beyond the simple extraction of seriously decayed
teeth ? [Currently welfare dental waiting lists can impose a wait of up to 60 months in getting
needed dental treatment done.]
Bob Carr to put the medical negligence clock back about 50 years: Proposed NSW
legislation will mean a return to the Bolam test. To read more download the first pages of our
Oct-Dec 2002 newsletter.
The Public Liability Insurance crisis: Community Organisations like MCA are suffering under
massive increases in the cover (which is compulsory under NSW Law) but is provided by private
insurance who do not seem to have to reveal their costs structure. Thus premiums have increased
by several orders of magnitude over the past few years. MCA has proposed in a recent newsletter
a different system whereby the public would be protected from inefficient private insurers and
excessive profits by a reinsurance industry in chaos.
For the details of our 'insurance in the sunshine' system here is an extract from the MCA
Federal Government is holding a series of crisis meetings the next is due in mid May.
June 20 Update: Bob Carr swallowed the insurance industry line without asking for any proof and
rushed his Civil Liability Act into law as soon as the Parliament sat so many compensation rights
have now been removed from NSW victims due to the retrospective nature of the new laws. And it
looks like most other states are going to follow on in the manner of dumb sheep never bothering to
check the facts first. So it may well be that only Victoria (where a survey showed that NGOs were
possibly being overcharged ten times for public liability cover) that will defend basic consumer
rights. MCA has been contacted by CVAG about the strange response one of their members got
from an ALP MP about how the new laws impact a case (more details soon) and via APLA MCA
has received papers about "The Coalition for the Injured" details of which we will add here soon.
June 25 Update: A major change in the NSW Association Act which effects MCA.
A case that gives the lie to claims of Santa Claus judges and a litigation crisis favouring
patients : When you don't have the cash to get your medical negligence case properly before a
court or to get international experts to give evidence for you and the judge accepts what the
defence witnesses say, you can technically win in the court room and still lose your career and
end up unemployable on a disability pension. And what does the protective jurisdiction (i.e. The
Minister for Health and HCCC) have to say ? Nothing at all , rather the response is that the case
is closed. Just look what happened to hospital worker Tom Hearne.
The Professional Indemnity Insurance crisis : In recent weeks this has once again reached a
critical point as the largest MDO ( medical defence organisation) in NSW, United Medical
Protection appears insolvent. For a background on this issue visit our separate website on this
topic Medical Indemnity Briefing
The effects of the NSW Health Care Liability Act 2001 : It seems that a law passed last year
to improve the quality of health services by making it compulsory for all doctors to take out
professional indemnity insurance may have put the MDOs in control of the NSW Medical Board.
This could effect the ability of a medical consumer seeking damages via a civil negligence case to
get medical reports to support such a case. MCA is currently seeking answers from MP's as to
what the legislation is expected to do.
Consumer Privacy and E-health : In order to meet international trade demands Australia is
introducing new privacy legislation. But consumer groups have called the legislation Swiss
Cheese because it has so many holes in it. Fears exist that when genetic data becomes part of
every Australian's Electronic Health Record personal privacy will be at an end since Australians
have no Consitutional Rights and few effective enforcable rights via the court room where money
rules ok ! Another related issue is the cost of providing all the additional privacy applications at a
time when patients depending on the public hospital system face long waiting lists and service
failures that are being ascribed to budget blow-outs and consequent unsafe cost-cutting.
(Australia has a iatrogenic death toll (when adjusted for the population difference) of about 3 times
the US figure)
Those involved with the above efforts - Your 2002-3 Executive Committee:
Following the AGM held on 24 November 2002 your new committee is as follows:
Laura Leonoff - President ; Cary Ooi - Vice-President ; Tom Benjamin - Vice-President ; Andrew
Allan - Secretary/Treasurer ; Assistant Secretary - Peter Edwards.