Puzzles for November 2016

31 October, 2016

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The NOVEMBER 2016 SKEPTICAL CROSSWORD PUZZLE is called Selling The Pharm, and is about the often dubious marketing of both alternative and over-the-counter medicines.

There’s a set of  November 2016 Logic & Maths Problems

and new sets of Picture Puzzles and “Mixed Bag” questions, which are at the top of the PUZZLES PAGE

Enjoy!


August 2016 Puzzles

31 July, 2016

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August’s Picture Puzzles and “Mixed Bag” Questions  are at the top of the PUZZLES PAGE ;

August 2016 Skeptical Crossword Puzzle revisits Chiropractic ;

and there’s a set of August 2016 Logic & Maths Problems .

Enjoy!


Age Editorial

22 December, 2015

We seem to be riding a wave of mainstream support for a Skeptical / rational view of health policy. The following is an editorial from The Age Newspaper of 22/12/15. The highlights are entirely down to us!

Well done, THE AGE !

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You cannot argue against the science

The science is clear. It is beyond argument. It is accepted. For hepatitis C sufferers, there is no dispute, only relief. The federal government announced yesterday that drugs to combat the disease will be placed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. The drugs can cost a patient $100,000 but, for Australia’s 230,000 sufferers, they will now be accessible for the PBS co-payment cost of $37.70, or $6.10 for concession.

According to Health Minister Sussan Ley, 10,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. She hopes that the drugs will not only halt the spread of Hep C, an infectious virus that attacks the liver, but in the long term eradicate it.

It is a welcome, and enlightened, move to alleviate suffering.

And then we move, in a historical paradox, from the enlightenment to the dark ages. The science is still clear. It is still beyond argument. It cannot be repudiated. And yet it is. The subject, of course, is the vaccination of children.

Read the rest of this entry »


The squandered health dollars Sussan Ley ignores

5 November, 2015

Re-blogged with the kind permission of the author, Paul Smith, deputy editor, Australian Doctor

Hon Sussan Ley Health MinisterFederal Health Minister Sussan Ley offered another slick performance at her Press Club address in Canberra last week.

People like her, she has good telly presence in a way that happily contrasts with the bad cop menace of her predecessor Peter Dutton.

When she addressed the industry big wigs in the audience – the drug companies, the management consultancies, the medical groups, the private health insurers – you could see them undergo the beautific visions of those who feel goodness had returned to Narnia.

Ms Ley is lucky.

The politics of her job have an easy-to-follow script – lots of excited talk about the urgent need for change before unleashing the reform taskforce which makes the government look like it’s all action, while helpfully delaying the unpleasant stuff until beyond the next election.

Ms Ley added another review to those already running – to look at the private health insurance industry.

She sold it as an attempt to understand why, despite the $6 billion in public subsidy each year, so many policies are “junk”, failing to cover the hospitals interventions needed when their members are at their sickest.

She also gave a passing reference to freeing up health insurers to play a bigger part in funding care outside the hospital gates.

There was even mention of encouraging more people to save their own money to fund future costs of primary health care. These are the ideas often floated by those who see the concept of ‘Medicare for All’ as having a use-by-date.

The audience smiled sweetly back.

But there was one (brief) moment which offered a glimpse of the tougher times likely to come to the minister, especially when she eventually collides full-on with an angry AMA over her MBS reforms.

It was when the News Limited journalist Sue Dunlevy, someone rarely seduced by the breezy charm of politicians, got up from the press table to ask her a question.

“Every year health insurers are paying $180 million in natural therapies for which there is no evidence,” she said.

“You already have the review of the worth of those therapies conducted by the chief medical officer on your desk…”

“Can you tell us what that report said and what you are doing about it?”

The minister’s sentences broke like toasted waffle.

“…the issue of complementary therapies is an issue of great interest to Australian patients and certainly to private health insurers and those concerns about the budgetary implications of which you speak.

“But I don’t propose to take any piece in isolation out of the complex mix of interests, stakeholders (for want of a better word) and, of course patients and taxpayers, when we look at the important issue of private health insurance.

“To pick up one report commissioned by a previous government (not that necessarily has to be an issue in itself) and make it something that this government has to respond to almost at the micro level, without regard to the intersecting policies issues and interests, I don’t believe is sensible public policy.”

In desperation I put this in the Google language translator and my lap top’s coolers ran red hot with the futility of the task.

Work on the chief medical officer’s report began in 2013. It is in the minister’s locked draw, where it’s been since February.

It has remained there for a reason.

There is no justification for squandering taxpayers’ money on homeopathy, iridology and all the diverse species of woo when you’re preaching the necessity of making Medicare sustainable.

There is no justification when insurers themselves talk so piously about refusing to pay for poor quality medical care their members get from private hospitals.

The one explanation which dare not speak its name for why this money disappears down this rabbit hole is that the companies have to flog these extras to lure in the young and healthy, whom they need to keep the business afloat.

Not healthcare at all, just part of the marketing budget.

Ms Dunlevy’s question is important, not because pulling the plug on health insurance voodoo is going to save the health budget, but because it has the subtext: how serious is the government about this “waste” question?

Before the coming debate on rebates for cataract surgery or the spend on coronary stents or the cost consequences of a PSA test, before the hunt for all the low value rubbish on the MBS, the government is offered an uncontestable example of squandered health dollars.

And the response is to do nothing?

 


A Skeptic’s Guide to Homeopathy

27 September, 2015

March 2015 saw the release of the Australian Government’s National Health and Medical Research Council’s  Statement on Homeopathy. It concluded:  

“..that there is no good quality evidence to support the claim that homeopathy is effective in treating health conditions.”

That’s as good a reason as any to revisit the following article, first seen here in 2010.

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Homeopathy is an “alternative medicine” invented in the early 19th century by German doctor Samuel Hahnemann. Despite numerous experiments showing homeopathy to have no effect, it has become a multi-million dollar international industry with its own special rules in advertising law.

Read the rest of this entry »


September Puzzles

31 August, 2014

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New sets of both Picture Puzzles and Mixed Bag Questions occupy the top of the PUZZLES PAGE.

SEPTEMBER 2014 SKEPTICAL CROSSWORD has Alternative Healing as its theme.

There are also ten new SEPTEMBER 2014 LOGIC & MATHS PUZZLES

ENJOY.


Energy Medicine at RMIT

15 December, 2013

by: Mal Vickers

Energy Medicine’: What is it? And should Australian Universities teach it?

energy medicine

There is a fascinating array of courses available at universities. Like me, do you look for interesting courses that might give you the edge in the jobs market or lead to an exciting new career?

Recently, I learnt that RMIT University offered a course in a relatively new branch of medicine, Energy Medicine.

The ways humanity have explored and improved human health seem endless. There’s pathology, psychology, dentistry, physiotherapy and nuclear medicine to name just a few. Should energy medicine be amongst those?

This new branch of medicine offers hope for naturally improving human health at little or no cost; but is it really effective?

RMIT and Energy Medicine

RMIT University are still advertising Energy Medicine both as a stand-alone subject in which anyone can enrol, and as an elective of the larger ‘Master of Wellness program.

The Master of Wellness program is administered by the Health Science faculty at RMIT.

Masters of Wellness

RMIT’s website indicates that Master of Wellness is Read the rest of this entry »