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Sussan Ley: the best friend Cancer ever had

Cancer is one of the leading killers in Australia – it accounts for approximately 3 out of every 10 deaths. In many cases, it can strike without warning; young, old, rich, poor. Cancer doesn’t discriminate. Even the healthiest of people can be torn down by a cancerous cell.

The verdict from doctors is practically unanimous. If detected early, many cancers can be successfully treated. Instead of a guaranteed death sentence, a simple test can save the pain, heartache and trauma of millions of Australians and their families.

That simple test requires pathology services.

The same pathology services Health Minister Sussan Ley wants to decimate with her ill-informed and ominous cuts to the bulk billing incentive for providers.

The truth is harsh. The reality is brutal.

Sussan Ley’s plan to scrap the bulk billing incentive will result in preventable deaths.

The link is obvious. It doesn’t require a $100k degree to figure it out.

Already stretched to the limits, pathology providers have made it clear. No incentive, combined with frozen Medicare rebates means something has to change. Sussan Ley’s pathology cuts are the final straw.

So what does this mean for Australians?

With no incentive to bulk bill, pathology providers will simply charge up front for services. The patient will have to pay the full cost of tests, scans and x-rays at the time of consult, then seek reimbursement from Medicare.

There may be a gap: out-of-pocket expenses, and potentially every time, for every test.

If a person can’t afford the upfront costs for pathology services, they will simply miss out.

And people will die.

Cancers will go undetected until it is too late.

Serious illness and disease will go untreated.

Doctors will not be able to properly diagnose patients.

Chronic illnesses will not be properly managed, leading to further complications and onset of disease.

Preventable sickness will become the norm.

Sexually transmitted disease will flourish.

Pregnant women may forego routine testing putting the health of themselves and their unborn child in danger.

Hospital admissions may increase as people wait longer before seeking treatment.

The general health standards of low income, vulnerable and disadvantaged Australians may decrease, putting further pressure on already struggling hospitals, health and support services.

Men, women, children and babies will unnecessarily die.

And for what?

To save Sussan Ley a paltry $650 million over four years. $162.5 million a year.

The government has spoken.

It has put a price on a human life.

And that price is a measly $1-3 per test.

In 2014-15, 98.7% of out-patient pathology services were bulk billed.

There is absolutely no doubt at all, that after 1 July 2016 that percentage will decrease.

That percentage represents real people. Real people receiving 112.8 million pathology services a year (based on 98.7% of the 114.3 million out-patient pathology services provided in 2014-15).

That percentage represents mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, grandmothers, grandfathers, uncles or aunts who may have to decide whether to pay the rent, put food on the table, or be tested for Cancer.

For every 1% drop in the bulk billing rate, that is 1.143 million Australians forced to put a price on their health.

That’s $30 out of pocket for each of the 2 million routine pap smears estimated to be conducted a year (a crucial tool to test for early signs of cervical cancer in women).

That’s upfront payments of $93 for an x-ray, $396 for a CAT scan, a minimum of $85 for a mammogram, up to $186 for an ultrasound and up to $1,000 for a PET scan (according to the Australia Diagnostic Imaging Association).

Those stricken with Cancer may face initial upfront costs of around $1,500 and out-of-pocket expenses of up to $400 after receiving Medicare rebates. Over two years the costs could escalate to over $3,000, with out-of-pocket expenses of up to $725.

The 1.7 million Australians with diabetes may now face up to $400 a year in upfront costs just for basic urine and blood tests.

Cancer doesn’t wait for payday.

Cancer doesn’t care if you lose your capacity to pay because you’re too ill to work or your insurances have run out or your private health cover don’t include pathology services.

Cancer doesn’t care for vain attempts to win the lottery.

Cancer doesn’t care that bills need to be paid.

Savagely, fiercely, stealthily it comes, and it stops for no one.

Yet one simple thing has the chance to stop Cancer.

Early Detection.

And Sussan Ley has her heel planted firmly on Early Detection’s throat. As each day draws closer to 1st July 2016, she grinds her heel a little harder.

It won’t be long before Sussan Ley kills Early Detection, with any hope or chance for millions of Australians suffocated by the weight of Financial Hardship.

Sussan Ley is Cancer’s best friend. Which makes her the enemy of every Australian.

Unrelenting, emotionless and insidious, Sussan Ley’s refusal to acknowledge the devastating consequences of her policy, has much in common with Cancer.

When sickness, illness and disease hit home, lives are destroyed. People lose jobs and homes. The pressure it puts on families; physically, emotionally, psychologically and financially, is enormous.

When Cancer, or any other illness strikes; serious, chronic, terminal or otherwise, it is never just one test needed. Weeks, months, sometimes years or a lifetime of diagnostic treatment is required.

For millions of families, Sussan Ley’s cuts may well be a death sentence.

For millions of others, Sussan Ley’s cuts will be the final twist of the knife.

The Government’s wilful blindness to the ramifications of de-incentivising bulk-billing is staggering.

Yet it is not surprising.

It is election year. Sussan Ley’s cuts will come in before Australians have the chance to vote, but before the full force of the consequences are felt.

It is deplorable that the availability and affordability of diagnostic tools, which are crucial to properly manage the health of Australians of every age, are being played against the interests of massive corporations and businesses.

Bulk-billing should not be used as a tool to threaten the Australian public – all pathology services should and must be bulk billed. If the Government wants to make savings, it must find another way.

There is still time to make a stand. All the advances in technology, medicine and science will be futile if Australians avoid critical diagnostic testing. The best doctors in the world cannot save a life once the point of no return is passed.

Australians are not yet at that point. There is still time to tell Cancer to shove its viciousness, vileness and foulness somewhere dark and gloomy where it cannot take hold and destroy lives.

There is still time to make it clear to Cancer’s best friend, that Australians will not tolerate having their lives held to ransom by anyone, or anything, including an evil, callous, heartless pathogen.

Let’s bury Cancer, not Australians.

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36 comments

  1. Stove-pipe

    Can we bury Susan Ley?

  2. Lachlan

    I’m sure if you pass around a hat people will contribute to her burial.

  3. Grinseed

    Here, have my shovel.

  4. Julie

    I wouldn’t employ this dope to be a checkout person. The lights are on but no one is home.

  5. kerri

    I have recently been through a barrage of tests to establish whether I have the 100% deadly Pulmonary Fibrosis. I don’t. My symptoms were confusing to the doctors and atypical. But the diagnosis alone involved several blood tests, urine tests, lung function tests, CT scan, chest x rays and an alveolar lavage (literally washing out the lungs) and a lung cryobiopsy.
    To assess potential damage from the medication to control the disease I do have, I have had to have eye tests for glaucoma and cataracts and bone densitometry and have purchased a home blood pressure monitor.
    I am lucky. I can afford all this.
    Not all, but some has been bulk billed and the whole time I have been thinking what if I couldn’t afford all this?
    I could have been falsely diagnosed and potentially put on inappropriate medication and be in the position of believing I have 2-5 years to live if I could not secure a lung transplant. BTW cancer isn’t even the tip of the iceberg there are so many scary diseases out there that the medical fraternity are struggling to keep up with and diagnose and treat. Many require meds which do little to help but are all that is out there, and we have a Health Minister who thinks we get tests just for fun and a government who thinks you get good medical care because you deserve it if you are rich.
    My firm hope for Sussan Ley is that she becomes very, very ill with a terminal illness as, at the rate she is p***ing off the AMA, she will find it hard to get a doctor to treat her.

  6. SGB

    The worse part is that these cuts are absolutely unnecessary – the reason these cuts are being imposed is so that the Liberal government can create a paper surplus, between revenue and expenditure, and tellmthe population that they are fiscally responsible.Thats right its a politically motivated and imposed requirement.

    The truth is that this government and indeed other gpvernments are lying to us. There is no reason to be concerned about a national deficit or surplus, in fact right now is the very time that we should have a deficit and it should be a damn site bigger than what it is at 35% of GDP.

  7. paul walter

    Yes, Sussan Ley, another Coalition “worker’s friend”. The pathology is alaming in more ways than one.

  8. Backyard Bob

    This article gets a little repetitive, but is otherwise excellent and raises many salient points.

    Of course the Government is arguing that natural competition pressures will mean that pathology providers will bulk-bill anyway. There may in fact be some truth to that argument, but it seems to me the risk of it not being true is far too great to be contemplated.

    Two years ago I had a stroke, at 50. Ok, dammit, three years ago. I require regular blood pathology to track my progress across a number of fronts. I live week to week. I will almost certainly have to abandon that testing and simply hope that the multiple drugs I take have me covered. It’s having to find the money up-front that will be the ruination of low income people.

    This really ought to be a cardinal policy area for Labor in the election campaign. The Coalition want to mess with our wages and conditions and our health? Those two areas by themselves ought be sufficient for the ALP to mount a winning election campaign. I’m no fan of fear-based politics, but when the fear is reality-based I’ve no problem with it.

    Changes to health costs affect/effect almost everyone because even those doing comparatively well often have family members who are not.

    # It’s not that easy being a checkout person, Julie.

  9. Lachlan

    For those who tweet:
    @theage @GuardianAus #Election2016 #correctingtitles
    Ever wanted to correct the title of a government minister? https://t.co/k8MEnJ5KFz

  10. Lachlan

    @theage @GuardianAus #Election2016 #correctingtitles
    Ever wanted to correct the title of a government minister? https://t.co/ODQMxtfSlW

  11. Keitha Granville

    It’s all very confusing. They keep talking about a measly $1 – $4 incentive being withdrawn and yet some places are quoting as much as $60. The pathology providers are indeed multi million dollar businesses who probably could absorb the costs and pay less to their shareholders, but is this the Liberal ideology ?

    I have breast cancer, (successfully treated and now 4 years out and still clear pheww) which has involved masses of blood tests, scans, imaging and other tests. Some have been bulk billed, some I have to pay – don’t ask me to understand how and why. I can afford ,and will continue to do so, but if I couldn’t ? I am afraid quite often about recurrence, and often my GP will order an x-ray or a scan to be certain nothing sinister is going on. I cannot begin to imagine being afraid and NOT being able to afford the tests.

    Why would we want to have more people getting sicker – surely it makes sense to keep up a system that has more of our citizens out of hospital, healthy, and working, than in the hospital receiving treatment for diseases that could have been foreseen.

    Prevention is better than cure.

  12. roddy666

    The diagnosis is in. If you’re not a rich, white, straight person, the Liberal party HATE you. It’s as simple as that.

  13. silkworm

    The pharmaceutical companies are the ones to profit from the progression of cancers. They would be the ones providing advice to government to cut spending on early detection.

    And regarding cancer and all the other scary diseases out there – medical cannabis is the cure for all of them, and it is again the pharmaceutical companies that advise governments on maintaining, and even increasing, the prohibition on this wonder plant.

  14. paul walter

    Silkworm’s comment is cynical, yet here is enough evidence of corporate behaviours to understand that that is how they would approach it.

    Thanks..

  15. jim

    So not only is the LNP trying to increase the cost of dying their letting us die earlier so nice of them eh.also they increase the suicide rate by heaps;;…….A study by New Scientist says ….Shaw and her colleagues found that on average, suicide rates were 17 per cent higher when the Conservatives (LNP) were in power, compared to the annual average of 103 suicides per million population when opposition parties held office.

    Richard Taylor and his team in the School of Public Health at the University of Sydney found similar trends over the past century in New South Wales. When Right-wing LNP governments were in power, men were 17 per cent more likely and women 40 per cent more likely to commit suicide.

    They report that rates were highest whenever Right wing governments held power both at federal and state level……….link……..https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn2817-right-wing-governments-increase-suicide-rates/

  16. lawrencewinder

    Is there any clearer message from this ruling rabble that they hate humanity and only appreciate money?

  17. diannaart

    I don’t have a terminal illness, where I slip through the cracks is under:

    “Chronic illnesses will not be properly managed, leading to further complications and onset of disease.

    Management means spending my “precious windows of energy” waiting at Doc’s just to get a repeat prescription – anyone noticed how you don’t get more than 2 repeats any more? (..and I don’t have the effing energy to doctor-shop)

    Need regular blood tests as well – did I just get my last one free?

    All these restrictions not helping, but definitely harming.

  18. Backyard Bob

    anyone noticed how you don’t get more than 2 repeats any more?

    Not really. There’s only one of the five drugs I take that I don’t get 5 repeats for. The one for which I only get 3 repeats is a drug that usually requires fairly close dosage monitoring. I suspect it all depends on the drug in question, but I can only speak to my own experience, obviously.

  19. diannaart

    ByB

    I’ll have what he’s having… (apologies to “When Harry Met Sally”)

  20. Backyard Bob

    diannaart,

    Have you quizzed your GP as to why you’re only getting 2 repeats for your particular meds? Seems ridiculous (and expensive if they don’t bulk bill) if you’re taking them all the time.

  21. June M Bullivant OAM

    It is a sad day when the rich can deny the poor the health tests they need to survive.

  22. diannaart

    ByB

    I did ask. Apparently there have been changes to the prescription of my medication – Panadeine Forte, which is on the hit-list of stuff people are, apparently, misusing.

    Far from misusing, I have actually managed to reduce the amount I have been taking over the past 12 months! Due to alternative medication – for which I have to attend monthly – pain relief via patches.

    Fortunately, my GP still bulk bills those on pensions. Nonetheless, Ley, remains (deliberately) clueless.

  23. z

    Sussan Ley is Cancer’s best friend. Which makes her the enemy of every Australian. hopefully most people will votes together, get rid of those who don’t care people’s health and cut public medicare spending

  24. Backyard Bob

    diannaart,

    Oh dear, you’ve been caught up in the absurd and hysterical war on codeine. That sucks, but I’m glad you’re getting relief from patches. Morphine based? Also glad your GP bulk bills for concession card holders; mine doesn’t, the bastard, but he’s a good doctor so i suck it up. 🙂

    And yes, Ley is bulk stupid. We ought bill her for it.

  25. MG

    I have a terminal illness and need three weekly bloods and Regular P.E.T. scanning. Where the money will come from for those God only knows.

  26. diannaart

    You got it, ByB

    @MG

    I am sure that people with terminal illness will be protected – the PTB just like to scare us first.

  27. Sharon

    I pay for ultra sounds and ex Rays and doctors and every other thing including Pap smears as I am not on a held card or pension most middle class do so their is no real change for us so what’s the complaint about!!!

  28. diannaart

    @Sharon

    People on much less income than you, will have to pay. You don’t have a problem with that?

  29. Backyard Bob

    Sharon April 24, 2016 at 7:32 pm
    I pay for ultra sounds and ex Rays and doctors and every other thing including Pap smears as I am not on a held card or pension most middle class do so their is no real change for us so what’s the complaint about!!!
    ——–

    I’m going to suggest Grammar, but this is probably the wrong discussion for that.

  30. kerri

    Silkworm medicinal Cannabis cannot remove scar tissue from lungs!
    Google Pulmonary Fibrosis!
    I agree totally with legalising Medicinal Cannabis but it is as simplistic to credit it as the “cure all” as it is to regard pathology as optional!

    Jim the early deaths save pensions!

    Diannart I don’t know if it applies to your circumstances, but the quantity of drugs I take had me returning for scripts every 6 weeks due to those rules. I complained and now my doctor has to ring the NHS every time I get a script so that she can prescribe a higher dose and I can survive a bit longer before returning for a rescript. Also look out for Salonpas (salicylic acid patches) at your local asian grocer. I use them along with systemic pain relief to great effect and no need to consult a GP. Mind though they can cause topical allergy.
    I’m on 9 meds ATM. Still figuring the dosage for steroids.
    Lung disease is a treat?

  31. Salstarat

    Sussan Ley … even her name is SUSS! This creature is yet ANOTHER screaming, hysterical harriden along with the truly vile Sophie Salmonella, McFailure Trash and the contemptuous, publicity seeking Julie Bishop (as well as the ex-helicopter queen rorter, Kerosene Bronnie) that gravitate towards the LNP like cockroaches to a sewer! Don’t know how this screeching cow can keep a straight face or sleep at night KNOWING that she is putting at risk the lives of countless thousands by taking from them the essential “free” and regular health checks that have saved the lives of thousands! The thing is, these tests are NOT free … we taxpayers SUBSIDISE them – willingly and eagerly as we ALL benefit from this type of preventative medical policy. Ley, like all the rest of the conniving, scheming, parasitic LIARS, thieves and rorters in the fascist LNP are driven by relentless, remorseless greed. Instead of pouring back funds to the ordinary folk in Australia who PAY for the overwhelming amount of tax (because we all KNOW that the top 1% pay NOTHING), the war mongering bastards in the LNP are spending countless BILLIONS on war, weapons of war, submarines and giving the non-taxpaying grubs at the top MASSIVE subsidies, eg nearly $1 MILLION to the non-tax paying, non-Australia, media monster, Murdoch and millions more to Gina Slimeheart who earns more than $680+ per minute and pays ZERO tax! The staggering hubris and self seeking hypocrisy of this savage, callously inhumane government is breathtaking.

  32. Andrew B

    Keitha, the current Federal Government wants to pass all health costs to teh States. This is yet another way of doing this. You can’t afford tests you goto the local Public Hospital and the State Government pays. No more Federal Health expebse!

  33. diannaart

    @Kerri

    I am only allowed 4 patches per 4 weeks – hence the monthly, effing waste of time, visit. To explain I am wasting more than just time at the doc’s – if I go out (by car) and say visit doctor, grab a few groceries, it takes me TWO days of bed rest to recover.

    Last Tuesday & Wednesday (2 WHOLE DAYS IN A ROW) I got really active and did some pruning of a camellia, and dug a hole to plant a grevillea – I am only just recovering today. Which explains my activity on AIMN today.

    I will give the Salonpas patches a try – they look useful for localised pain – which having lived a life means I have the usual; dodgy knee, motorbike shoulder, sciatica (although my physio showed me some terrific exercises to counter the sciatic nerve when it starts to play up)

    – probably no good for headaches? 🙂

    Don’t forget we are dealing with people who believe that pregnant women are just malingerers trying to get out of being in concentration camps (Sco Mo)

  34. keerti

    This government has a mission to improve the biological satus of the herd! If people can’t afford to pay for their own medical treatment then they are clearly inferior (and deserve to die earlier). The ability to make money is an inherited characteristic? Not so sure about that, but the actions of this government (giving tax cuts to property speculators of $10 billion a year while forcing people on unemployment with chronic backpain etc to work for the dole is in line with their observable, but unstated mission.

  35. Kronomex

    Ley reminds me, rather unpleasantly, of Annabelle the possesed doll in the movie of the same name. The LNP only cares about the big end of town and their corporate maste…oops,donours. The only time they pretend that the ordinary person exists is when there’s an election looming.

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