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Posts Tagged ‘Medicare’

Australians will have access to universal dental health care under reforms suggested by a federal government health commission.

The commonwealth will take over responsibility for all primary health care outside of hospitals and fund all outpatient services in hospitals.

The National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission has stopped short of calling for a full federal takeover of hospitals, but left open the option of the commonwealth funding 100 per cent of hospital admissions further down the track.

The annual cost of the reforms is estimated to be between $2.8 and $5.7 billion.

In addition, capital investment over five years of up to $7.3 billion is needed.

But the report says the changes could save $4 billion a year by 2032-33.

Of the 123 recommendations, one that could be most welcomed is the suggestion that commonwealth fund a new Denticare Australia.

The commission’s final report, released publicly on Monday, says there are more than 650,000 people currently on public dental waiting lists and the dental health of children is worsening.

‘To address these problems we are recommending a new universal scheme for access to basic dental services – Denticare Australia,’ the report says.

It will cost an estimated $3.6 billion a year. Under the scheme every Australian will have access to basic dental services ‘regardless of people’s ability to pay’.

It will be funded through an increase in the Medicare levy of 0.75 per cent of an individual’s taxable income.

source  :  www.bigpondnews.com

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There are a number of changes being made to the citizenship test. The key changes are:                                                                                                    citizenship

  • the test questions will be rewritten in plain English
  • the test will not contain any mandatory questions
  • the current pass mark will increase from 60 per cent to 75 per cent
  • the test will be based on the Pledge of Commitment that new Australians make when becoming citizens.

The new citizenship test is planned to begin in late September 2009. The revised citizenship test resource book, which will contain all the information needed to prepare for the test, will be available from late August 2009.

You will be able to sit the new citizenship test in the same locations as with the current test including all 13 department offices, 30 Medicare offices and 4 Centrelink offices across Australia.

Will the new test be easier?

No. The test will continue to assess whether clients have an adequate knowledge of Australia and of the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship and possess a basic level of English.

Will the test only be in English?

Yes. The government is committed to the citizenship test being delivered in plain English.

If I have already passed a test will I have to sit another one if there are any changes?

No. You will not have to sit another test if you have already passed a test.

Can I make a booking to sit the new test now?

No. Appointments for the new test will not be available until the revised resource book is released in late August 2009.

Can I get a copy of the new test questions?

No. As with the current test questions, the new test questions will be confidential. However, practice questions will be available in the revised resource book and on this website.

Will assistance to complete the test still be available?

Yes. If you have difficulty reading or are unable to operate a computer you will be able to request help from a Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) officer during a standard 45 minute test. The department officer will be able to assist you by reading aloud the test questions and answers or by operating the computer. Please ensure you request assistance at the time you make your test booking.

Source  :  http://www.citizenship.gov.au/test/changes/

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In a welcome move, the Australian Government has said it will legislate to extend the validity period of subclass 410 Retirement visas to 10 years, and remove the working restriction on these visas.

Subclass 410 Retirement visas ceased to be available to new applicants at the end of June 2005, but there are nevertheless some 8,700 410 visaholders in Australia at the moment.

The 410 visa is a long term temporary residency visa, with an initial validity period of 4 years. Initially renewals of this visa were required every 2 years, and there was a no work condition attaching.

Work rights were relaxed in 2003, and relaxations to the health requirements upon renewal of 410 visas were announced later that year.

In 2005 the rollover period for 410 visas was extended from 2 years to 4 years.

Successive Immigration Ministers appear to be sympathetic to the position in which Retirement visaholders find themselves. Many 410 visaholders are now long standing members of Australian communities, and granting permanent residency is a natural next step – the present Minister appears willing to listen to representatives of the 410 cohort, and in extending the renewal period to 10 years is (we would submit) providing quasi-permanent residency to affected individuals.

Full access to Medicare appears to be the main issue with this visa category, together with an ongoing requirement to maintain private health insurance.Indeed, with temporary visaholders being able to structure their personal tax affairs such that overseas source income (including UK source pensions) are not subject to tax in Australia, some would contend that 410 visaholders are in a good place visa and tax wise.If you are a subclass 410 visaholder and would like to discuss your personal tax and financial position please contact us at our Perth or Geelong office. Go Matilda Accounting and Tax is one of the few firms of advisors that have consultants with knowledge across the UK and Australian jurisdictions, and are therefore ideally placed to assist with the preparation and lodgment of UK and Australian Tax Returns, and to provide strategic advice on personal tax planning.

We also recommend that Retirement visaholders visit the internet discussion group that lobbies for the interests of individuals holding subclass 410 visas – British Expat Retirees In Australia, or BERIA: see the weblink below.

  http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BERIA/  Source : www.gomatilda.com 

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Fertility doctors are worried they will be under pressure to implant multiple embryos into women who cannot afford ongoing treatment due to new financial safety net caps, a leading IVF specialist says

Having two embryos implanted into the uterus instead of one raises a woman’s chance of having a multiple birth, says IVF Australia chairman Professor Michael Chapman.

As part of Medicare Safety Net restrictions unveiled in Tuesday’s budget, payments for IVF will be capped at different rates for each stage of treatment once a person reaches the safety net threshold for out-of-pocket medical expenses, which is $1,111.60, or $555.70 for those on low incomes.
This could hit women with an extra $1,500 to $2,000 of out-of-pocket costs per IVF cycle.

There are also caps on safety net payments in other areas including obstetrics, varicose vein and cataract surgery.                                                        embryo

Under the changes, pregnant women who choose to see a private obstetrician will be out of pocket by $550 unless doctors lower their fees.

“That is why the government is urging women to question their doctors about their fees,” Health Minister Nicola Roxon said.

An average of $4.5 million of taxpayers’ money is paid to the top 10 per cent of IVF specialists each year.

But Prof Chapman said the government, which says it wants to crack down on specialists who charge exorbitant fees, was using the figures for political gain.

“For every doctor that gets money, there are 10 staff members, the scientists, counsellors and nurses, they get funded through the rebate,” he told AAP.

Prof Chapman said he accepted there had been a 40 per cent rise in IVF fees over the past five years but said that it was in line with general medical inflation.

Current Medicare rebates, which work out to about $4,200 per child, go towards employing about 2,000 people in private IVF clinics nationally and investing in research and facilities, Prof Chapman said.

He estimated out-of-pocket costs for patients would rise from $1,600 to between $3,000 and $3,500 when the safety net caps come into effect on July 1, 2010.

It can often take more than one IVF cycle for a woman to fall pregnant.

“Certainly, patients are going to be more out of pocket for IVF than they have been in the past,” Prof Chapman said.

He warned doctors would be under pressure to implant more than one embryo per cycle into women as a result of safety net restrictions, increasing the chance of multiple births.

“Over the last five years in Australia the twin rate has dropped dramatically because we have been able to put one embryo back,” he said.

“But if patients think they won’t be able to afford the next cycle they will put a lot of pressure on the doctor to put two embryos back.”

Ms Roxon said her department would work with medical professionals to restructure the system to better reflect stages in a treatment cycle.
www.sbs.com.au

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budget 09TONIGHT’S Federal Budget will be about three things – jobs, nation building and a path back to surplus.

That was the message from Treasurer Wayne Swan this morning as he again repeated the Government’s mantra that there would be “difficult decisions” and “no easy answers”.

Just hours from delivering a in Budget ravaged by a $200 billion writedown revenue, Mr Swan said he was working in the “most difficult set of circumstances in 75 years”.

But he dodged questions about the likely impact on Labor in the polls, saying: “What we have to do is the right thing in the nation’s long-term economic interests”.

Wealthy retirees emerged as the latest group to pay the price for that stance today.

The Daily Telegraph reported they could have their pensions cut to help fund a $30-a week increase for almost one million single age pensioners.

The Government is expected to tighten the taper rate on the age pension, a method by which it claws back the welfare payment from retirees with an independent income.

It is just one of a number of cutbacks the Government is expected to outline as it tries to rein in an expected almost $60 billion Budget deficit.

The 30 per cent tax rebate for private health insurance coverage will be means tested, payouts for obstetric and IVF services under the Medicare Safety Net will be cut back and the increase in the first-home owners grant will be wound back.

Wealthy Australians will have their tax break on superannuation contributions cut in half and government superannuation co-contributions for low income earners will be slashed from $1500 to $1000 a year.

The “sin taxes” on alcohol and cigarettes could be increased.

But the Budget will announce an 18-week paid maternity leave scheme.

And it is expected to include a big-spending jobs package to combat an expected increase in unemployment to 8.5 per cent as a result of the global financial crisis.

The Opposition said the Budget cutbacks were made necessary by the Government’s irresponsible big-spending stimulus packages in response to the global financial crisis.

The $30-a-week rise in the pension will go only to single age pensioners and will see the weekly pension rate rise from $284.90 to $315 a week.

It will answer criticism that the payment left in poverty those who relied solely on the pension.

The rise is also expected to be extended to single veterans and disability pensioners but will not go to single mothers.

The pension rise will cost more than $3 billion, and to help pay for it, the Government is expected to tighten means testing of pensions.

Currently, single pensioners can earn up to $41,000 and still receive a small pension payment.

They also qualify for a range of concessions on medicines, council rates, electricity bills and telephone allowances worth up to $10,000 a year.

Couples can earn up to $68,000 and still get access to these valuable concessions.

http://www.news.com.au

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