Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Renovated vaginas more important than rorted taxpayer billions

Crikey's Pure Poison appendage has a go at The Australian for publishing a story making passing mention of a credible claim that Medicare is funding non-essential "designer vagina" surgeries:
“Designer vaginas”? At $5-6000 each? Under which Medicare category does that fit? When did that happen? Which doctors made that claim? Was it paid out, or clawed back? Are we talking about a strange operation that is covered by Medicare but shouldn’t be (unlikely) or a case of fraud, that’s been caught?

I mean – that’s not a normal Medicare charge, is it? And if not, what happened? How did they get away with it? WHAT IS THE FREAKING STORY? Did it even happen?

The AMA was doubtful:
AMA president Steve Hambleton said Dr Webber’s style and language were overblown, and he had not previously heard any suggestion that the safety net — set up as catastrophe insurance — had been used to cover cosmetic treatments, let alone highly controversial genital procedures for non-medical reasons.
And yet the piece as published in The Australian includes none of writer Adam Cresswell’s no doubt vigorous journalism on the subject. You know, the bit where he followed up with Dr Webber by asking him point blank to back up his claim, and then noted down the details for verification, and then checked them himself, and if he found that it had happened where he then discovered how and why… so that the people reading his article who weren’t partisan hacks who’d happily pretend to believe anything as long as it bashed a public service whose community support they resent, would have some basis for taking it seriously.
PP boy Jeremy Sear, being obsessed with all things News Ltd, fails to notice that News, Fairfax and The ABC all reported the "designer vaginas" angle similarly as but part of a much larger story: the alleged yearly $2 billion - $3 billion rorting of Medicare. Jeremy ignores both the similar reporting at non-News outlets and the alleged massive misspending of taxpayer dollars.

Had Jeremy done his research he'd also be aware that the AMA does not rule out the "designer vaginas" allegation:
Look, I think if there are a few safety net areas where they do need to be tweaked. I think we need to look at that. I think the safety net was built by John Howard and Tony Abbott to actually work as catastrophe insurance for those families that had high expenses in one year. It was never intended to pay for high out-of-pocket expenses for cosmetic surgery. And certainly, the government has done some changes to the safety net to - in the obstetric area. In fact, they saved a whole lot more than they were expecting to, even in the first year.

But for those families where the safety net protects them for those excess, out-of-pocket expenses when they've got sick children, it's working really well, so we do support it.

Look, some of the issues that [Dr Webber] raised I think are not the intention of the safety net. And we have no issue with calling to account individuals who are abusing that privilege. And I guess that's why we have Medicare, or at least that's why we have a PSR process. And if people are doing the wrong thing then they should be called to account.
Jeremy's reporting is much more misleading than the story he "analyses" which might prompt motivated readers to complain to the Australian Press Council. This would be futile, however; Crikey is part of the 2% of media outlets that refuses to join the Press Council so as to avoid constantly appearing before it.


Anonymous Vajazzled said...

Commenter Matthew of Canberra, comment #7 at the link, actually gets it:

According to the medicare website


Medicare does not cover:

# medical services which are not clinically necessary
# surgery solely for cosmetic reasons

So this is a pretty big claim. If a doctor is allowing a patient to commit fraud, then somebody ought to be investigating that.

You’re quite right – the actual story is entirely missing from the article.

I did notice that comments stopped dead on that piece as soon as someone pointed out that the Age had gone for the same pimp my vajayjay angle he was taking offence to News having taken.

8:00 PM  

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