LETTERS from readers, July 2019
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Medicare safety net with complimentary holes
WHAT is one supposed to do when one simply cannot pay the medical fees? My doctor wants me to see three specialists, each for different things. Total cost: $350 plus $300 plus $200, which totals $850 and that is just for one appointment each. What can one do?
What we really need is a system like France where the doctors, specialists and surgeons are state employees and all get a salary fixed by the state, leading to none of this ridiculous business where they can set their own fees.
Colin Hargreave, Berry NSW
Good points. Obviously, we need price regulation for medical specialist services. In the interim we’re stuck with a free-for-all with a few so-called safety nets. Once you have spent $470 in a single calendar year in out-of-pocket expenses, you get 100 per cent of the Medicare schedule fee refunded, rather than 85 per cent. In addition, after this, once you have reached $680.70 in out-of-pocket expenses, you will also be refunded the lower of two amounts: (1) 80% of out of pocket costs or (2) an especially set capped amount for the medical service in question. This capped amount can mean the refund is nowhere near 80 per cent of out-of-pocket costs. The Medicare system monitors your medical expenses and the safety nets are activated automatically. The system still relies heavily on people having cash available to them to cover significant out-of-pocket medical expenses upfront. (Ed.)
Captain Cook turning 250 in 2020
BEFORE he set sail on the Endeavour for the great south land we call Australia, James Cook was given an order by James Douglas, the Earl of Morton, President of the Royal Society to ensure that “any natives [he] encountered are to be regarded as the natural and legal possessors of the several regions they inhabit”.
John Maynard, Professor of Indigenous History at the University of Newcastle noted that Cook was to open up dialogue and discussion, establish friendship and possibly establish a couple of trading places on the east coast of Australia, and that in planting the Union Jack at Possession Island he disobeyed his orders completely.
The 250th anniversary that will be held in 2020 will carry mixed messages for many people. Whether or not we participate, the year provides us with the opportunity to get the facts right about how Australia came to be a colony of the British Crown. With the raising of that flag on Possession Island, at sunset on Wednesday 22 August 1770, Cook declared the place a British possession. It set the scene for writing Aboriginal people out of the story about how this country was invaded and the fact that thousands of Aboriginal people were killed if they stood in the way of the settlers and the authorities who supported their take-over.
We have recently been reminded of what can happen when there is a silencing of historic events. I speak here of the Chinese authorities who deny Chinese people the right to learn about what happened 30 years ago at Tiananmen Square in Beijing.
Attempting to rewrite history to assuage our guilt does us no good, especially when it involves shutting down the conversation that others would like to have as part of a dialogue for reconciliation and bridge building within and between cultures.
May I suggest that CPSA Members and Branches take the opportunity that the 250th anniversary in 2020 provides, to connect with their local indigenous communities, perhaps by inviting local Aboriginal elders to be guest speakers, or by participating in some of the many events planned to be held during the year.
Stuart Carter, Macquarie Hills NSW
Dim view of deeming
IN respect of the Age Pension for couples, the current deeming rate set by the Commonwealth is 1.75% for cash from $0 to $85,000 and 3.25% for amounts of cash above $85,000.
On 4 June 2019 the RBA announced an historically low/reduced cash rate of 1.25 per cent. It should also be noted that there was zero per cent movement in the Consumer Price Index for the 2019 March quarter.
Against this background, the Australian Government’s current deeming rates are now significantly out of line with the reality of actual interest rates that might be achieved for savings accounts and/or term deposits that are used by pensioners.
Because the deeming rates set by the Commonwealth directly affects the amount of pension received by pensioners with savings, the widening gap between the deemed rates of return and actual achievable rates is adversely impacting those pensioners.
In the circumstances, would CPSA make representations to the Government to review its deeming rates and have it reduced to more realistically reflect the prevailing situation with much lower interest rates?
Peter Golack, Isaacs ACT
CPSA has been commenting in the media on the deeming rate crisis and is also trying to get the Government to reveal how these rates are calculated and set. CPSA regards this issue as a campaign priority. (Ed.)
Email firstname.lastname@example.org , if you would like to write to CPSA to have your views and comments published online and in the monthly print version of THE VOICE, CPSA’s newsletter