“I hope you have a very happy Christmas Season and a Happy New Years Eve till my next newsletter.

Today I have to write to you about something no so helpful for your health and well-being that is being legislated, but I think you should know more about it.

The Australian Government is taking away the rights of Australians to claim alternative health treatments on their private health insurance. It is a disgrace and degrading to the professions within this category to see what is happening. We are being devalued and it isn’t good enough. I see that this is about a ridiculous attitude which undermines prevention and promotes pharmacology. I have quoted a newsletter I received before on facebook for you to have fully informed updated information about this issue. It is from the Australian Traditional Medicine Society which is a governing body for accreditation of Australian natural therapists. This one is from the Bowen Association of Australia and is comprehensive and also gives you a forum for complaint if you do not agree with this decision which at this stage has no definate date of implementation but will likely be in the next twelve months. PLease read this and pass it on to those who care about their alternative practitioners. It could lead to a lot of people missing out on health treatments, cancelling their private insurance or practitioners not being able to continue to fund their training as their practice declines. As it is we have to complete 20 hours of training per year to keep our accreditations with private health insurers. No exceptions and this means that if people do not get cover, will they need to keep their skills up to date? There are so many factors to consider. It could put the private health industry out of business too. I have already heard a lot of my patients saying they will cancel private insurance if this happens. Please read below….”

“Federal Government Health Fund Reform The Announcement As most of you probably know by now, in October the Department of Health published an upsetting announcement regarding the future of health fund rebates for Bowen Therapy. The Federal Government has made the decision to stop paying rebates on health fund policies that cover natural therapies. Despite the BAA being involved in this process since the Chief Medical Officer called for submissions of evidence five years ago, the various associations supporting complementary therapists were not informed of this recent decision. We had to discover it from the news, much like many of you, and then the coverage was piecemeal at best. The release on their site is still scant on detail. The disturbing part is that many still don’t know that this is happening. The government made the move of slipping in the announcement with a raft of other measures late on a Friday in the hope that it wasn’t overly noticed – it worked. What does it mean? Essentially, it appears that from 1 April 2019 private health funds will no longer rebate their customers for claiming on almost all complementary and natural therapies. This is because the government will no longer rebate the private health insurers the 30% that they have been, and it’s hard to imagine the health funds would continue to rebate if they are no longer being compensated by government to do so. This is not just for Bowen Therapy. The other modalities affected are: aromatherapy, Buteyko, Feldenkrais, herbalism, homeopathy, iridology, kinesiology, naturopathy, Pilates, reflexology, Rolfing, shiatsu, tai chi and yoga. The modalities that seem to have not been cut are massage and nutrition. This in no way affects your ability to practice as you do now.

It simply means that your clients will/may no longer be able to make a claim for your services with their health fund. What can we do? While government decisions, despite consultation processes, tend to be fait accompli, we can still make a lot of noise and make people aware of our position. Write to your local member (Federal) and let them know how you feel. If enough government MPs and senators feel they may lose their seats next election, they may start to agitate internally for change. If we can make this an election issue, we may just get somewhere. And make sure your clients, friends and family know about it too. I’ve struck many who had no idea it was going on. Make them aware. Encourage them to write to their MP, as well. We only achieve change with numbers. We’ve spoken to some parliamentary insiders and the word is that petitions are treated much like spam and largely ignored. This requires actual letters or emails. We’ve prepared a set of templates for you and your clients to use. Alongside these are a list of questionsthat your MP can put to the Health Minister. Choose two or three to include in your letter – it adds some spice and weight to your correspondence. Points to raise: False economy – how does cutting fractional funding for largely preventative health care save the health budget in the long term? I’m sure you’ve all had that client who was scheduled for surgery until they had a few Bowen sessions, then Wow! A miracle! No surgery required. How is it cheaper to spend thousands on surgery than a few dollars on health insurance rebates? Attacking small business – the Liberal party hold themselves as the party of small business. Most who work in our industry are small business people, either sole traders or small clinics. This is a very real attack on small business holders. If our income is threatened, we collect less GST and pay less income tax. We spend less in our communities and contribute less to the economy. This is short-sighted in the extreme. Marginalising women in the workplace – it’s no great secret that complementary therapies are largely a female-led industry. Attacking our industry is an attack on women in business. Government interference in the market – it is surely a contract between insurers and the members of the public what those people want to pay for in their insurance, and not up to the government to decide. Damaging an Australian Therapy – why is the government that trumpets innovation trying to harm an Australian innovation? Questions to include: • Could you please explain by what authority the Government is able to dictate to private health insurance companies in regards to the natural health treatments they are able to offer rebates for? • Is it ethical for the government to limit the rebates that private health funds offer, ultimately restricting consumer choice? • Can you please provide a list of therapies which will be eligible for private health fund rebates under the proposed new guidelines? •

Why has the Government chosen to propose a change to exclude Bowen Therapy from private health funds rebate lists based on a report which is two years old and clearly out of date with consumer preference? • Why do the proposed changes include Bowen Therapy and not other forms of treatment such as massage, acupuncture, etc, that work on similar physiological premise? • Can you please provide me the supporting, scientific evidence which has been used to base the decision on which natural therapy modalities will remain eligible for private health fund rebates? • On what criteria were decisions made as to which natural therapy modalities will remain eligible for private health fund rebates? • On what criteria were decisions made as to which natural therapy modalities would not be eligible for private health fund rebates under the new system, i.e., why would massage be included and not Bowen Therapy? • Bowen Therapy is an increasingly popular and effective form of therapy. Could you please explain why Bowen Therapy has been left off the list of treatments that private health insurers can provide a rebate for? • Can you please explain what modelling you have based your decision on to exclude Bowen Therapy from the list that private health funds provide rebates on and provide me with a copy of relevant data to back this up? • Can you please provide me with a copy of the modelling that has been done regarding the cost effectiveness of the proposed changes? • Have you factored in the cost-saving that can result from the present situation where consumers take a preventative, pro-active role towards their health and well-being compared to the proposed system where many consumers will be forced to wait until costly medical intervention is required?
There is much evidence in favour of preventative treatments such as Bowen Therapy which often result in helping people to maintain their health and well-being before they become unwell. Has the Government considered this when making its decision? • Can you please explain the reason for the dictatorial approach and how that fits with the Government’s stated philosophy of not ‘over governing’? So please – start writing, emailing, phoning your local member. Contact the Health Minister, the Hon Greg Hunt; the Shadow Health Minister, Catherine King, and anyone else who takes your fancy. Let them know we’re not happy. Even though this is a federal issue, let the parties know that people are angry and want this decision reversed.

The other thing to do is to be as professional as humanly possible. Show the world that we aren’t all woo-woo/ Gaia/peace-and-love-and-mungbeans (by the way, not disparaging any of that – totally into that!) but that going to a Bowen Therapist is no different than going to a physiotherapist. Someone comes, we take history, make observation, do tests, provide treatment and advice and for that we deserve equal treatment”. Michael Alcott, Vice President

This is the link to find the templates and feel free to direct your clients there as it’s in the public part of the site, not the Members Only area.”

http://www.bowen.org.au/latest-news/campaign-to-retain-private-health-insurance-rebates-for-bowen-therapy/

love and light

Katherine Bright ND

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