Latham flunks the test

I mused the other day about the fact that the large increase in Australia’s newly-discovered projected consolidated revenue surplus, along with Howard’s cynical spending promises in its wake, created a real opportunity for Mark Latham to “promise some really meaningful major reforms in tertiary education, health, industry policy or public infrastructure.”

So what has he actually done? Spent $2.9 billion on non-means tested free hospital care for old codgers over 75 years of age, and a grandparenting allowance of $20 a week per child for codgers providing primary care. (read the campaign launch speech here). What a goose! The Medicare Gold scheme wastes $2.9 billion of taxpayers’ funds on an economically regressive, socially wasteful program that probably won’t be sustainable in the long term anyway given intergenerational changes over the next couple of decades. The grandparenting allowance might make more sense, depending on the definition of “primary care”. But Labor’s got Buckley’s of persuading codgers to desert the Tories in big numbers anyway, however much Latham tries to bribe them.

This was a heaven-sent chance for Labor to implement major social and economic reforms that could have made a real positive difference to Australia’s future. Instead, like John Howard, Latham has squandered billions of taxpayers’ dollars on cynical and probably futile vote-buying bribes. If that’s the best he can do, Labor deserves to lose.

Update – Professor Bunyip shares my view (which will probably be enough for most lefties to dismiss it out of hand). However, the RWDB echo chamber brigade aren’t saying anything much, probably because Howard hasn’t distributed their hymn sheets yet. Howard himself has been remarkably reticent in his response to Medicare Gold, no doubt realising that dissing the codgers is a bad political move even in relation to a policy proposal as stupid as this one.

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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cs
cs
2022 years ago

A stunningly negative view Ken. If this isn’t an example of a “major social and economic reforms that could have made a real positive difference to Australia’s future” I’m a monkey’s uncle. Did great, great granpa Parish also oppose universal education?

Link
2022 years ago

Free hospital cover for old codgers. Umm, pity its not means tested. I’d say there will be a few rusted-onners who, if only to save the bucks, will think that this might be a good reason to change camps. People are obsessed with two things as they age, their wealth and their health and that’s about it. Pity the poor 74 year old.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Chris

I should be stunned that you’re trying to defend Latham’s policy, but I’m not because you’re just a Labor cheersquad leader for the duration of the election campaign; all critical faculties suspended. Is Rupert Murdoch over 75 yet? When he is (at least if he’d remained an Australian citizen), he’ll be getting free hospital care to treat his ingown toenails courtesy of Mark Latham and the good old Aussie taxpayer. Your tax dollars at work. What a joke. I wouldn’t have a problem with an income and assets-tested scheme for free hospital care for the very elderly, in fact I’d applaud it. But in fact we already have free acute care for everyone irrespective of age. Extending free elective and non-urgent surgical care to people over 75 irrespective of their income or assets just doesn’t make sense. If this crazy scheme still exists when I turn 75 (which it won’t, of course), I hope I’ll have the integrity to refuse the benefits and pay for myself instead of bludging on younger taxpayers.

cs
cs
2022 years ago

Pity the poor 74 year old.

I think this overlooks the fact that everyone expects to live to 75 these days – this is a move that includes everyone. As for reform, take a look at the spagetti and meatballs that comprises aged healthcare sometime – yes, this offers a real chance to straighten out one of the great godallmighty messes in Australian policy.

Re the economics of the deal, the truth is that universal health care is a much more economically efficient way of managing national health spending (health is distinguished by asymmetry of knowledge, elasticity of demand and rapid inflation that can be limited by the exercise of government buying power). If you compare health expenditure across nations, you’ll find that the more universal and public the system, the lower the expenditure (and the higher the overall quality of care). Think national economy, not public expenditure, as this is where it really matters. The Rupert Murdoch example is fanciful. The very rich will always secure their own health care.

Moreover, the historic timing is exquisite. Traditionally, older people have been cared for by the younger, and almost always female members of the family. This is one of today’s real work and family pressures – the youngest codgers and the oldest codgers is where the heavy pressure is. This takes the pressure off at the oldest end, dovetailing with child-care initiatives, and it still leaves Latho well under Ratty in the fiscal responsibility stakes. There’s a lot to be unpacked yet, but at a glance I think it brilliant.

But let’s turn this around Ken, what’s the opportunity cost? What do you nominate as a competitive “social and economic reform” that has been missed here?

Philip Gomes
2022 years ago

True, true, true, Ken, but those who support Labor now know it’s impossible to win against Howard on the basis of good policy, he always muddies that particular water and wedges the electorate relentlessly. The only way for Labor to win is to play the political game, and this is a political statement. Latham knows how to play that way. Beazely was soft.

I for one am not prepared to have Labor lose on the basis of the goodness of a sound fiscal policy and have to see another four years of rape and pillage of the electorate due to core and non core promises.

It’s not enough anymore for Labor to keep it’s legs closed, the electorate expects a political whore and we have one in Latham.

I like the kill ’em all and ask questions later approach to policy this time around and Latham is the man for the job.

But realistically, this was a much more sedate approach than the Libs piracy of the treasury in order to win re-election. So therefore Labor is the least worst option.

If the election is close, swinging a few sexy seventies Labors way could be the difference.

Cynical, yes.

Dave Ricardo
Dave Ricardo
2022 years ago

Ken, as I said over at Chris Sheil’s, the old codgers’ vote isn’t the game here. It’s the old codgers’ children’s vote. What is the aspirational middle aged middle class’s worst nightmare (apart from a tax on 4WDs)? It’s worrying that their inheritance will disappear if their aged parents get sick and rack up some mega private hosiptal and specialist bills.

Elect Latham, and it’s problem solved. No future government would dare to get rid of this policy just as no government has dared to get rid of the free public transport and all the other freebies that the oldies get, no matter how rich they are.

Let’s face it, this whole capmpaign has been one obscene bribe to the un-deserving. Yesterday it was subsidised nannies, today it’s free health care for rupert Murdoch. I share your disgust. But Ken, get with the program. Do you want to see the back end of Howard or don’t you?

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Do you want to see the back end of Howard or don’t you?

Of course I do, and Im voting Labor as I’ve said before. But this sort of nonsense doesn’t make it any easier, or inspire any confidence that it’s the right decision.

cs
cs
2022 years ago

I reject the idea that my “critical faculties have been suspended” (in fact, I’d be tempted to allege the reverse, but I’m nicer than that). More cooly, I suspect this might be a place where liberals and social democrats part policy company.

Francis Xavier Holden
2022 years ago

ken – I havent seen anywhere where it says that Lab policy will fund ALL care in private hospitals – in fact I’d be willing to bet it doesn’t. Rupert and Kerry (and you, CS and Homer for that matter) can currently have their hospital care for free in a public hospital if they want to. My assumption is that the LAbor policy will just fund AT THE SAME PRICE the care in a private hospital should the privates opt in. But I might be wrong.

Guido
2022 years ago

I find myself in agreement both with Ken and Philip. We need more good reform but if the perception of Latham is that is ‘inexperienced’ talking about economic reform would be politically difficult to sell. Better to do, as Latham had done, going all waxing lyrical about how we owe the older generation and we need to look after them etc.

Hopefully, if Labor is in we can get the McMullins in the party to start a reform process.

Peter Murphy
Peter Murphy
2022 years ago

Would Murdoch – citizen of convenience of the U.S. – be eligible for the rebate? (A hypothetical example raises the question of whether over-75 foreigners can get their money back.)

Don Wigan
Don Wigan
2022 years ago

This is more than just vote-buying. One of the biggest grievances of this age group has been that private insurers have opted out or limited cover for them – hurts quite a bit when you’ve paid all your life.

I’d always though Labor should tackle this issue, but had assuned it would have to wait until they’d got rid of the health insurance tax rebate (which, like the GST, they can’t really do from opposition, only government with the help of taxpayer funded advertising).

If this issue gets the cover it ought to, it will win support and ensure that Medicare overall is our primary priority.

observa
observa
2022 years ago

Will it be a case of free hospital care for over 75s if you survive after sitting on State Labors’ lengthening hospital queues for the mandatory couple of years? Maybe the dropoff rate has been factored in to the costings and it won’t blow the budget?

Hey! What about some real statesmanship and vision with my new railway? No wonder the poor mugs don’t know who to vote for anymore. Perhaps Howard knows best that the mugs will settle for $600 worth of new lino in the here and now, rather than all the promises of paradise paved with gold?

cs
cs
2022 years ago

Revised costings – because of savings with the new old codger health program, down from $3.9bn (total promises today) to net $1.2bn!

peggy sue
peggy sue
2022 years ago

Would Murdoch – citizen of convenience of the U.S. – be eligible for the rebate? (A hypothetical example raises the question of whether over-75 foreigners can get their money back.)

For a start, Murdoch would need to reside in Australia – citizenship does not matter.

Medicare pays only for medical services provided in Australia to residents of Australia.

Tourists from Finland, Holland, Ireland, Malta, Norway, NZ, Sweden and UK are covered by reciprocal agreements for “immediately necessary” health care.

Medicare and other social welfare benefits are not dependent on citizenship, only on “permanent residence”.

To claim the (old) Age Pension, once you are of pension age, you must have resided in Australia for 10 years.

You must actually be in Australia to claim the Age Pension, but the pension is portable. So a citizen or non-citizen or dual citizen can leave the country and still be paid the pension OS.

The amount of pension paid OS depends on how long they resided in Australia. For 25 years of working life residence, the full pension will be paid OS. For residence periods less than that, the payment factor is [months of working life residence/300].

‘Working life residence’ is counted from age 16.

Currently Murdoch’s assets would exclude him from eligibility for the Age Pension.

If he came to live in NSW he could get a Seniors Card, as there is no assets test, and they don’t ask you to disclose your income.
(slightly different rules in other states/territories)

PB
PB
2022 years ago

Why pay old farts to do something they do for free? I notice total absence of the phrases “tax cut” and “tax reform” from either platform- what is needed immediately. All this other bullshit is handing back in dribs and drabs puny bits of cash to a select few- cash that shouldn’t have been excised in the first place. Public servants must be beside themselves.

Gianna
2022 years ago

Ken, along the lines of what FXH said, do you really think the Murdochs of this world who can afford luxury private hospital care would actually choose to go public just because it’s free?? i don’t think so.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

“ken – I havent seen anywhere where it says that Lab policy will fund ALL care in private hospitals – in fact I’d be willing to bet it doesn’t. Rupert and Kerry (and you, CS and Homer for that matter) can currently have their hospital care for free in a public hospital if they want to. My assumption is that the LAbor policy will just fund AT THE SAME PRICE the care in a private hospital should the privates opt in. But I might be wrong.”

Julia Gillard confirmed last night that the policy would ostensibly fund all care in private hospitals apart from “luxury extras” like DVD’s/TV/ private rooms. The key to public/private allocation is apparently about “bed availability and specialist location.” Most specialists practice in both systems simultaneously so I think we’re looking at where the first available bed is, principally.

If Howard had announced this policy, the States would have utterly rubbished the paucity of proferred fundings – particularly as to longterm sustainability; pointed to the already significant admissions backlog, the human resource
constraints, the potential for negative roll-on effect to proximate populations and raised the fact that current (and unaddressed in Latham’s launch) problems with aged care bed numbers mean that many seniors end up as dreaded “bed-blockers” in acute and emergency beds. They would also have demanded clarity as to who would have ultimate
resonsibility here – States or commonwealth?
For obvious reasons they haven’t raised these questions, but they still need to be asked. I’m a fan of some health service delivery responsibility reallocation but I’d like to see more detail.

I’d say that Seniors would be pretty cautious about abandoning their private health insurance. They tend to think that all pollies are full of it.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Gianna

Geoff has mostly answered your point above. Latham’s proposal DOES include treatment in both public and private hospitals, on a bed availability basis. However, since public hospitals are invariably chock a block with acute care patients, a codger who wanted to get his ingrown toenails fixed (or have cosmetic surgery) would be booked into a private hospital for it. It might not be the private hospital or doctor of their choice, so it isn’t quite as good as private health cover, so maybe Rupert wouldn’t go that way, but plenty of quite wealthy people who could well afford to maintain private health cover would do so.

There is a certain amount of force in Latham’s argument that taking very old people out of the private health insurance mix would bring down insurers’ costs (because the aged are the haviest users of hospitals) and therefore perhaps help to restrain premium increases for everyone with private health cover. But it would have been of much greater benefit for the broader community to (say) devote that $2.9 billion to improvements to the states’ public hospital system so as to bring down waiting lists for everyone.

And will Labor’s costings of this proposal prove accurate? I would have thought it’s very likely that the very old will seek to access elective surgery rather more frequently if it’s totally free. Latham’s proposal removes all price signals and potentially facilitates rampant overservicing and equally rampant patient hypochondria, to the full extent of bed availability. Private hospital owners will love it. Latham is effectively guaranteeing that their beds will always be full. Expect many more to be built, with queues of codgers waiting to access elective surgery at the taxpayers’ expense as soon as they open their doors.

Amanda
2022 years ago

It doesn’t bother me that Rupert Murdoch would benefit under Medicare Gold. That’s why its called universal. He could have sent Lachlan to his local govt schools too and that would have been his right as a citizen.

Some things should be mean tested, basic services like health and education should have a universal base.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Amanda

Health care, including acute hospital care and surgery in life-threatening situations, is already free for everyone, not just very old people. Latham’s proposal is to extend free non-acute hospital care including elective surgery in private hospitals to everyone over 75 irrespective of their means. Is this a rational use of taxpayers’ dollars when our acute care public hospital system remains stretched to the limit?

Amanda
2022 years ago

I don’t know Ken, to be perfectly honest. It’s a big issue and I have no particular expertise in the health area. I’ll let the wonks battle it out, try to keep up and come to my decision when when and if I feel I have enough information.

My only point was that just because Murdoch can access it isn’t an argument against it. Politically and rhetorically I like it.

Gianna
2022 years ago

ah, i see. thanks.

mark2
mark2
2022 years ago

“Politically and rhetorically I like it”

I suspect you have correctly identified the motivation Amanda however politcal and rhetorical motivations are not known to frequently coincide with good policy. Maybe Latham is attempting to emulate his hero Gough’s tendency to think with his mouth?

I also suspect that a few years hence practical implementation of such a policy to skew waiting lists on an age basis will provide ample potential for adverse stories in the tabloid media. Expect to see reports about some poor battler who has to wait until 75 for his elective surgery.

I’m on Ken’s side in being extemely wary of the assumptions used for costing a policy like this(ass-u-me). I suspect it’s inevitable that we will over time see limits placed on what procedures are involved in a new medical version of ‘core’ and ‘non-core’ promises.

I cant help but think that the sight of Latham hugging and then promising ‘free’ Whitlam style entitlements in front of a beaming Gough may leave some seniors with recollections of the Whitlam era seeking non-elective cardiac treatment.

bargarz
2022 years ago

Elect Latham, and it’s problem solved. No future government would dare to get rid of this policy just as no government has dared to get rid of the free public transport and all the other freebies that the oldies get, no matter how rich they are.
Bum deal if the kids are hoping to protect their inheritance. Jeebus, what happens when the boomers get old? I’ll bet there’ll be a push for the inheritance tax before this money pit is ever likely to be rescinded.

fx
fx
2022 years ago

The Medicare Gold as announced is the headline stuff for the next two weeks. The real policy is reform of Aged Care in Australia. I am sure you will find that the guts of the policy will be to increase residential care options, nursing homes , hostels and other hybrids, enable funding of nursing home type beds in some acute settings, thus freeing up acute beds for surgery etc, and also intergrating GPs into aged care with better fee structures.and more. I can second guess most of the details with a bit more time. and win or lose this idea is not going to go away – it will influence aged care from now on.

FXH – ken your comments never remember me. Is it a well crafted centrist blog plot?

Gibbo
2022 years ago

Um, is this going to happen after the end of childhood poverty in 1990 or is that off the list now?

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

A slight correction to an earlier comment Latham’s Medicare Gold policy WILL “allow patients to choose their own doctors and hospitals” (see the actual policy documents here). In other words it’s full free private health care cover for the over 75s at taxpayers’ expense. Accordingly I see no reason why the ultra-wealthy like Rupert Murdoch wouldn’t in fact use it. The rich didn’t get that way by spending money unnecessarily, and media moguls have been especially skilled at sucking on the public nipple.

I wonder what Paul Watson thinks of Latham’s policy? After all, it’s a classic case of babyboomers (including wealthy and middle class ones) arranging things to give themselves a cushy retirement at the expense of Gen X and the rest of the working population. And the cost is bound to blow out as life expectancy lengthens, the range of expensive elective surgical options expands as medical knowledge continues to improve, and the number of aged Australians rises inexorably over the next 2 or 3 decades.

FX

If you open the full post, instead of just clicking on the comment hyperlink on the front page, your contact details should then be displayed. It seems to be a glitch in the Moveable Type system that drives this blog.

Scott Wickstein
2022 years ago

There’s nothing wrong with MT- the problems could be on Francis’ end.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Scott

It’s as I said in my comment. If you just click on the “comment” hyperlink on the front page under each post, your saved contact details aren’t displayed. On the other hand, if you open the whole individual post page by either clicking the extended page hyperlink or the post-time hyperlink at the foot of the front page post, then your saved commenter details are displayed. I don’t know why, but it’s always been that way for me (and other readers as well to my knowledge).

Francis Xavier Holden
2022 years ago

scott – ken is right. I mean centrist. If I open the whole post by clicking on the time bit (04:01 PM) of “Posted by Ken Parish at 04:01 PM” it remembers me. thanks ken.

still working it out
still working it out
2022 years ago

“probably futile vote-buying bribes”

I don’t think that it is futile when it comes to buying votes. It does not have to buy many.

If this package can pull some sort of percentage of older voters to labour then it will have been a great success. This election is going to be decided by only a few percent. Pulling some sort of fraction of the senior vote over to Labour will certainly have been key should Labour win and its hard to see how this policy will not acheive this.

Billions of dollars for mere thousands of votes, but still logical from a merely electoral point of view.

Ros Marsh
Ros Marsh
2022 years ago

Hello Ken, I am here because of professor Bunyip. It is your call as to whether or not that’s a good thing. I don’t know who the RWDBs are but I suspect I am one of them. The truly amazing thing about this policy for me is it displays his (Mr Narcisissim himself) absolute lack of intellectual capacity, and the adoring acceptance of the (opposite to RWDB?)who in the main love it. This site reminds me that I shouldn’t be so judgemental. But resources are finite at least in the real world. So we are to support a system that moves a 75 yr old ahead of a 20 or 30 yr old into surgery first. My imagination runs to the nurse off sick because she can’t get orthopaedic surgery because of the hip implants. Also in the real world there is competition for skilled people as well. And before people get hot and bothered about RWDBs, my Mum is a dementia sufferer over 75 who has been utterly stuffed around by the misfortune of ending up, temporarily in the hands of the extremely efficient caring public system. I wish. And this efficiency and caring is to be exported to the private system.

Rose
Rose
2022 years ago

I have been a registered nures for 40 years and I can assure all, that what Mark Latham and Labor are trying to sell is total and cynical nonsense.
ALL people who have no private insurance/health cover already get free treatment now in the States hospitals now and certainly do not have to wait until 75 years.
As for free entry for aged patients into Private hospitals, is the man quite demented?
The one reason to have Private health cover, is to ensure a bed in a private hospital IF and when one requires it – I would want also a private room and if this is unavailable, maybe would consider shared accommodation in a 4 or 6 bed ward, but I do not wish to share my space with a confused, incontinent, noisy or demented patient.
I have battled for the past 10 years on night duty trying to cope with these poor old dears for whom I have great sympathy, but in the event I have to have surgery or be hospitalised for any medical condition I WANT PEACE.
Latham is going to’train up 1800 nurse- oh yeh/
By the time these raw young grads come on line another 1800 like myself will have thrown in the towel- weary, frustrated, short staffed and sick of having to work with many young nurses who do not want to do the hard dirty work of cleaning up soiled dirty beds and patients who have had their fingers in – and up to their necks-thats how it is out there.
The young nurses want the ‘glamour’ work-intensive care and emergency room and operation rooms. They want to fast track into Admin or ‘UNIT Mangers ( Chrge nurse).
No longer, the life long dedication to basic care. I cannot blame them, they compare themselves to friends in the private commercial sector and wonder what in hell they took on.
Under all Labor goverments the nurse have suffered and their union has not been much help.
The matter of Drs also is of import. where does he think he is going to get all these Dr’s he is ‘going to train up/ he makes them soung like pet monkeys. There is a shortage of specialists across the board and this is not going to improve because of the litigenous society we now inhabit and the insurance premiums so overburdening.
It take years and years to specialise, and these skilled men prefer to work in the private sector where they have control of their workload and are not going to take on hundreds of cases extra to satisfy young Mark’s dreams-
The problems of old age are ones that need treament that is expensive and skilled – hip and kneee replacements very costly procedures and require intense post operative care,
Pace makers etc just to mention the few.
He claims you will be able to enter any hospital, private or public when and where you wish it along with the Dr of choice. BALONEY.
Public patients NEVER get a Dr of their own choice
and even in private hospitals you have to go to the hospital where YOUR Dr, of choice has visiting rights and that could be miles from home.
Doe Mark plan hundreds of hospitals and where in hell are all these beds he is going to’OPEN UP’???.
I have it from a staunch labor aquaintance that when the election is over there are plans to reintroduce death duties- you see they do not like the idea that you may wish to leave your children anything- that is not the ‘AUSTRALIAN SOCIALIST WAY’ NO SIRREE.
I am a self funded retiree whose parents lived on the age pension and thought they were very well off- they had consessions for taxis, bus and train, their dentist accepted their consession card and having been through the depression and WW2 thought they were so fortunate.
We have been able to save enought by prudent living to fund our own retirement and are happy to do so but we are not much better of the those on the full pension as we are eligable for nothing.
However if ever I am ill
hopefully never as like Mrs Bunyip I keep active and well as does my old bloke.
We, through my work paid for our children to go to a private school and for 10 whole years my total salary went into their education and guess what- I am very proud of that.
I pray that the older generation will not fall for this dangerous mans policies.
I bought my first home during the term of a labor government and had the misfortune to sell under a labour goverment- 14% on purchase then Interests 18% when trying to sell and force to accept half of what it was worth, NO WAY JOSE!!
I would also ask of him, when the hospitals are bursting at the seams with all these elderly of which I may be one, where does he plan to have the beds for casualties in the event of a Major major catastrophic disaster. Old people sadly take up beds long term and there will never be enough accommodation – an aging population with less of the younger generation to pay the taxes to fund it- Many are working part time now and finding it hard to fund anything let alone retirement so how can they afford to pay for all the aged with no prospect of benefitting themselve.
The world of to-morrow is very unstable and we need strong sound management and whilst Labor is promising ‘fool gold’ it is forcing the Howard goverment into reckless promises because he will not be elected if he does not match Mad Mark- I would like to think many think as we do but whe offered a free day in the supermarket of life – the green eyed god wins out

thersites
thersites
2022 years ago

Could Lathams proposal for ‘free’ medical care and no waiting lists be a sly euthanasia policy? Given the inevitable risks involved with hospitalisation & surgery maybe a euthanasia factor has been used to assist achieve ongoing cost savings?

from opinionjournal.com:

Great Moments in Socialized Medicine

A British doctor has killed a critic of the country’s government-run medical system, reports the Sunday Telegraph:

A critic of declining standards in the National Health Service died after being given a large overdose of iron by a hospital doctor who did not read the instructions on the drug’s label properly.

Carys Pugh, 63, a former president of a patients’ association in Wales, was taken to casualty at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital after the blunder turned her skin brown and “saturated” her liver with iron.

still working it out
still working it out
2022 years ago

“Labor deserves to lose”

I keenly share your disappointment that Latham has not pursued “major reforms in tertiary education, health, industry policy or public infrastructure”. But being heartlessly realistic, do you think that would win him the election? I like to think so, but watching the success of John Howard’s amazingly cynical approach to policy development and more importantly the incredibly shallow media coverage even on supposedly quality sources such as the ABC has left my faith heavily challenged.

The real problem is that I cannot see how the complicated arguments needed to explain how major reform is going to work, why it is needed and why we need to spend billions of dollars on it is going to be communicated to the public through a media that is itself uninterested in understanding these things. I think such a message would resonate strongly with the Australian electorate, but would be impossible to transmit effectively. This is a media that talked about the very important and complicated issue of American Free Trade Agreement almost solely in terms of political point scoring. Our media is becoming increasingly shallow and in this environment its hard (though certainly not impossible) to be disappointed with Latham. My hope is that if they win they will then get on with the serious stuff that they were unable to talk about in the election.

The quality of public debate is too low for substantive policy to win elections.

red peter
red peter
2022 years ago

I’m surprised at the skepticism this has been met with, especially in contrast to Howard’s cash bonanza*. Atleast in part, it’s clearly a vote-grabbing maneuver and that’ll negate ANY policy from being wholly and purely in the general public interest. But this is an election campaign, and anyone who thought Latham was going to be able to win by advancing some kind of fully costed, multi-faceted, utopian vision for the country is living in a twilight zone of utopian politics. This is exactly what those of us who want to see Howard go have been asking for; a cut-through, single issue policy to swing things the ALP’s way.

Philosophically, it advances the idea of universal health care strongly and, what’s more, does so in a way that makes it tangible to voter joe-average.

Practically, I think the skepticism is overblown. Yes, we have an aging population (and that’s an issue that needs to faced anyway). Yes, health care costs sky-rocket in the last five years or so of life. But in light of the fact that the most cost efficient health care systems, in terms of service provided per dollar injected, have proven invariably to be universal ones, surely this’ll HELP ease the burden, not increase it. And if the infrastructure is lacking

Robert
2022 years ago

Ken, while I’m a bit worried about the uncapped costs, I think the scheme could work. It would be a bit like the PBS — instead of forcing a price on sick, elderly individuals, private health providers would be forced to negotiate on a large scale with the government. The single biggest problem with the health system, as I see it, is the doctors have so far been unchallenged in their demands for more money. This could be the first serious attempt to get them under control. It’s a risk, but if the public are behind it then I think Latham will be able to stare the AMA et al down.

Francis Xavier Holden
2022 years ago

rob – don’t worry the price will be set by the market and benchmarks from the efficient 80% of the sector – public hospitals. It wont be open slather, just as it isnt open slather now for the public hospitals. Most likely it will be a standard casemix /DRG offer. Not much of a problem, the figures are already used in public hospitals.

Robert
2022 years ago

Yes, that’s what I expect. But the doctors will put up a fight, and they usually win. The key will be to get the public on side first.

Latham has done this, by:

1. Targeting the age group that nobody wants to pick on.
2. Making life easier for insurers, as a small number of customers who account for a large amount of claims will be taken off their hands.
3. Promising to end the blame-shifting between the States and the Commonwealth on hospitals.
4. Getting the major private health providers onside.

The battle is already half won. The only people who stand in the way are the doctors, and I suspect the public is ready for someone to stand up to them.

(Reducing the massive fees doctors and specialists can earn on short-term contracts with public hospitals would have tremendous benefits for people under 75, too.)

saint
2022 years ago

I think the idea has promise but I would like to see if Labour comes up with an aged care/nursing care plan to dovetail into it.
As for specialist shortages, shouldn’t we consider busting up the cozy boys club monopoly and/or recognizing overseas qualifications?
Perhaps for doctors too – nearly all the doctors in my suburb for example are aged around 50 or so and are planning to retire in the next few years. They can’t even find locums.
Nurses….

yobbo
2022 years ago

Who are the “RWDB echo chamber brigade” Ken?

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Not you Sam.

yobbo
2022 years ago

No, I’d really like to know which bloggers you consider to be a right-wing echo chamber, as opposed to fiercely objective and independent types like Dunlop and Sheil.

Most right-wing bloggers in Australia are not satisfied with either of the parties, hence the lack of cheerleading (Or as all the lefties and now you have been putting it: “Having nothing to say about the election”).

Dave Ricardo
Dave Ricardo
2022 years ago

“Most right-wing bloggers in Australia are not satisfied with either of the parties”

it’s true. Most right wing bloggers are well to the right of the Liberal Party, and even the National Party.

Which makes it just a well all they do is run a web site and not something important, like a business.

PB
PB
2022 years ago

I run a business that turns over about $10M a year, Dave, what do you do? I think the Liberal party are fabian socialists, and the National party are agrarian socialists. The ALP are a rag-bag collective of centrist socialists and ’50s CPA rejects, and the Greens are demented.

David Tiley
2022 years ago

I guess, with my usual brain full of disconnected info-trinkets, this plan is going to force some huge changes on the whole system.

The cries about escalating costs implies that our existing arrangements are not providing care to a significant number of oldies, particularly I presume for things like hips and the apparently jokey toenails that limit mobility and stuff the quality of life.

On the surface it looks as if we are going to have a system in which private health insurance is used up to the age of 75, when everyone goes on the government. Maybe not such a bad idea – it could cut the cost of premiums while encouraging the “best” health care for kids, and currently active adults to sustain wellbeing.

The government is going to have to regulate the costs of private hospitals, presumably through an extension of casemix, to stop overservicing which is a huge issue with elderly patients without a lot of care at home. (I’ve been in hospital and seen’em wandering around).

And it will concentrate the government mind on nursing homes and assisted care – as other people have indicated this has already begun.

I presume it also erodes the independence of the dual public/private system since the Ramsays of the world will get most of their dosh directly from the government. They just become service providers and look more and more like public hospitals.

More and more, as the government pays private providers to supply universal care to the sector that takes up the bulk of beds anyway – the aged and dying – it may look like a privatised/regulated model. Certainly the libs could take it that way. Sell the (insert name of giant public hospital here) anyone?

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Rob Corr’s comments have almost swayed me to being prepared to accept that Latham’s plan could be made to work. But it still needs some sort of income and assets test (probably a relatively generous one that exempts the family home), and some system of prioritising/managing demand. Otherwise there is indeed a real risk that we’ll just transfer limited resources from younger people with very debilitating conditions requiring surgical correction, to very old ones having haemorrhoidectomies (however you spell it) or vanity-driven cosmectic surgery. It will never be possibly to completely satisfy every single demand for surgical intervention. I’d quite like to have laser surgery to correct my astigmatism one day, for instance, and getting my nose straightened might be quite nice too if the taxpayer was paying for it. Seriously, I’m not that vain and I wouldn’t bother even if those services WERE available for free. But plenty of people ARE that vain, and plenty of others are shocking life-long hypochondriacs who will certainly abuse the system if given half a chance. However, as long as those issues can be addressed, Rob Corr’s arguments have convinced me that Latham’s idea may have merit.

Dave Ricardo
Dave Ricardo
2022 years ago

What I do, PB, is get a rise out of people like you.

And what a pleasure it is.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

I think the policy detail has a way to run here Ken. Latham framed this pretty clearly as a vote grabber – and who can be surprised at that? It’s a pretty good one though I don’t think there’ll be that many Seniors ripping up their health insurance policies for a wee while yet. I certainly see advantages in the proposal thus far – and the Aged Care stuff today has helped – but we’ll need to see the whole health picture to get a firm take on how it all fits together. As you’ve observed elsewhere, that’s not going to happen before October 9.

I still think that there are a range of issues round infrastructure, human resources commonwealth/state to sort – we would, for instance, have heard from the States, at length, on all this and more (and not in a positive way) had Howard, rather than Latham, chucked Medicare Gold into play. It’s kind of cool how years of anguish about docs, nurses, waiting lists, bed blocks, Commonwealth parsimony et al have vanished in a 2.9 billion dollar trice. Who knew the fix was that easy?