MDA Members Set to Vote
The proposed merger of MDA National (MDAN) and MIGA heads to its final hurdle with a vote of members on October 11. The MDAN meeting, open to all members, will be held in Perth at 10.30am and video conferenced live to sites in Victoria, Queensland, NSW and South Australia.
All members have received a 250-page Scheme Booklet, also available at www.mdanational.com.au, which MDAN President, A/Prof Julian Rait, said includes proper disclosure of the intended merger compliant with the regulatory regime, and contains all material information necessary for members to make an informed decision about the merger.
On September 10, the president of AMA WA, Dr Michael Gannon, wrote to AMA WA members expressing his concerns about the merger. Among those concerns, but not limited to them, were that a merger:
• would reduce per capita net member assets;
• would precipitate an effective move of Head Office from Perth to Adelaide;
• could not guarantee savings for MDAN members and even the potential for them to contribute more than their fair share;
• could change the way cases are managed with a move away from medical input to a cases committee.
Dr Gannon writes: “We have less than five weeks to have these concerns addressed. I ask that you entrust me with your vote and grant me your undirected proxy for the vote on 11 October.” A MDAN proxy voting form was enclosed with the email nominating Dr Gannon as the proxy.
A/Prof Rait, whose comments are constrained by standard regulatory and judicial requirements which apply to merger communications, said that the directors of both MDAN and MIGA, as well as ‘independent experts’ have concluded that a merger is in the best interests of their members.
He said that he was concerned with inaccuracies in Dr Gannon’s e-mail and encourages all members to read the Scheme Booklet to ensure they are fully informed of the material relevant to the merger.
“Most importantly, members will continue to have access to high quality and local service from their medical indemnity provider,” A/Prof Rait said.
Former President of both MDAN and AMA WA A/Prof David Watson told Medical Forum that he had been deeply involved with MDAN for the past 14 years, standing down from the board just 11 months ago. He refuted AMA WA claims that MDAN’s focus would drift away from Perth.
A/Prof Watson said MDAN was no longer a state organisation but a national entity with offices all over the country; where once most members were from WA, 60% of its doctor membership now lived outside the state.
This made MDAN a strong organisation. However, he said MDAN would always be anchored to WA because of its heritage and strong membership there.
He denied that a merged organisation would move away from medical input in case management, and added that only the biggest claims went to Case Committees. Most are dealt with by case managers who are in regular contact with medical advisers, of which he was one. “I could talk to a case manager once a week. That medical influence is not going to change in a merged organisation.”
A/Prof Watson said MDAN had changed enormously as an organisation over the years, but its core business of insurance and member support remains, and it is a good business.
“However, businesses can’t stand still, or they will fail. This merger ensures a solid future.”
Now it is up to the members to decide.
National registration review
The review of the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme to be conducted by former Director General of WA Health, Mr Kim Snowball, is open for submissions. He has compiled a 120-page consultation paper, (available at www.ahmac.gov.au) flagging the review would focus on complaints and notifications, public protection, advertising, mandatory notifications, assessment of overseas trained practitioners and governance and cost of the national scheme among others. The review (and the reviewer) is not without its critics. One reader wondered how independent a former health bureaucrat could be reviewing the health bureaucracy. Written submissions should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, October 10.
State seeks out primary care
Primary care is on everyone’s minds lately as the sector sails into another era of flux with Medicare Locals set to morph into a new entity still to be explained and the general but mounting pressure on health costs. The WA Health Department recognises the challenges ahead and is hoping to get input from those working in the area on key issues of integration and communications at a Primary Care forum on Friday, 24 October, at the University Club at UWA. It is hoped that GPs allied health, AMA, state health services, consumers, carers, and advocacy groups will attend. For information and to register, email email@example.com or phone 9222 0200.
All eyes on vaccine
In Curious Conversations [August], Telethon Kids Institute (TKI) head Prof Jonathan Carapetis reiterated his long-held desire to find a cure for rheumatic heart disease. Well an announcement a couple of weeks ago put him one step closer. A collaboration between TKI, University of Auckland and the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne is focused on fast-tracing a vaccine and assess the most cost-effective treatments. The project is called CANVAS (Coalition to Advance New Vaccines Against Group A Streptococcus, and is funded by the Australian and NZ governments.
Biotechs’ bumpy ride
We announced the recent IPO of local biotech Othocell was fully subscribed by its July deadline with Australian Super Investments taking the largest holding of 8.36%. It was a happy spot for what has been a volatile period for local biotechs, which collectively have lost about $37m in the 2013-14 financial year. While the balance sheets look a little scary, it hasn’t stopped confidence in the sector. In August, Admedus, which is producing CardioCel, a collagen cardiovascular scaffold developed by Prof Leon Neethling, opened its new bio-manufacturing facility in Malaga. The capital expenditure was necessary, it said, to meet the expected rising global demand.