Coalition’s ‘arbitrary’ tax cap will force future spending cuts, thinktank warns

Exclusive: Australia Institute says debates about funding what people need should not be decided by limits and targets

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The treasurer, Scott Morrison, describes it as the “speed limit” on taxes but a new paper says the Coalition’s 23.9% tax-to-GDP cap is an “arbitrary” limit that will push the government to make austerity cuts to fund new programs.

While a dramatic improvement in revenues has given the Coalition room to ditch the planned $8bn Medicare levy increase and offer income-tax cuts, the Australia Institute has warned in a briefing note that the combination of a limit on tax and a surplus target will necessitate spending cuts in future.

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Medicare change to give greater dialysis access to remote Indigenous Australians

Move is welcomed as a lifeline for the growing health crisis of Indigenous kidney disease

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The federal government has added dialysis services to the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) to provide remote-living Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people better access to lifesaving treatment.

The sector has welcomed the move as a lifeline for the growing health crisis of Indigenous kidney disease, which has had to rely on private donations and fundraising to provide care because of inadequate government funding.

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Government ditches planned $8bn rise in Medicare levy

Scott Morrison will outline plans to forgo revenue intended to fund NDIS but says government can still fund program

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The Turnbull government will use the looming May budget to dump plans to increase the Medicare levy to fund the national disability insurance scheme, in a shift intended to reframe the tax debate before the next election.

Scott Morrison will use a speech to business economists on Thursday to confirm the about face on a measure the government outlined in the 2017 budget.

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Illinois primary election: anti-abortion Democrat wins close congressional fight

Seven-term incumbent Dan Lipinski faced first serious challenge from progressive Marie Newman, who has refused to concede

Incumbent Democrat Dan Lipinski won a narrow victory after a fierce challenge from progressive Marie Newman on Tuesday in Illinois’s third congressional district. With 95% of the vote reporting, Lipinski, one of the few remaining anti-abortion Democrats on Capitol Hill, edged out Newman by 51% to 49%.

A seven-term incumbent, Lipinski had not faced a serious challenge in a decade. However, in a district that backed Hillary Clinton by 15 points in 2016, he faced criticism not just for his views on abortion but his opposition to the Affordable Care Act and refusal to endorse Barack Obama in 2012.

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Norfolk Islanders go to UN to fight Australia over right to self-govern

Human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson launches legal challenge on behalf of islanders, who say they are a distinct ethnic group

The international human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson has launched a legal challenge with the United Nations on behalf of Norfolk Islanders, alleging the Australian government has placed islander’s culture and language at risk by revoking their right to self-govern.

The island – roughly halfway between Australia and New Zealand – had been governed by its legislative assembly since 1979, until the Australian government’s decision in 2015 to revoke its autonomy. Australian federal and state laws are now enforced and islanders are now entitled to Medicare and other government services. Travelling between the island and Australia no longer requires a passport.

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Canadians cut food and heating to afford prescription drugs, report finds

  • Nearly one million Canadians sacrificed groceries and heating
  • The only developed country with no universal drug plan

Nearly one million Canadians sacrificed food and heating last year in order to afford prescription drugs, according to a new report.

Despite having a universal health care system, Canada remains the only developed country in the world with no universal drug plan. It also has the second-highest drug prices in the industrialized world.

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Koch-backed group fights paid sick leave laws as flu sweeps US

The lobbying group that led the assault on Obamacare has targeted movements across the US to ensure workers can get needed time off

This week marks 25 years since Bill Clinton signed the Family and Medical Leave Act, which gives US workers the right to unpaid time off to care for themselves and close family members.

It took another decade for some to win paid sick leave, when San Franciscans approved a ballot initiative in 2006 for private employees to earn an hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. Similar measures now benefit 14 million workers in 32 municipalities and nine states.

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Private health insurance sector calls for increase to Medicare levy surcharge

Private Healthcare Australia says surcharge not a strong enough incentive given rising premiums

High-income earners should be penalised at a higher rate through the Medicare levy surcharge for failing to take out private health insurance, the insurance sector says.

Single people who earn more than $90,000 and families earning more than $180,000 pay an extra 1%-1.5% levy if they do not have private health cover, with the levy tiered according to income.

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Medicaid: Trump opens door for states to take away coverage from out-of-work Americans

Administration unveils major policy shift that could mean millions of Americans could be legally required to hold a job to be on Medicaid

Millions who rely on Medicaid, America’s biggest public health insurance program, could be required to have a job if they want to hold on to their coverage in the future.

The Trump administration has unveiled a major policy shift that offers a path for states seeking to tie Medicaid eligibility to work requirements.

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