24 May, 2013
The Hon Peter Dutton MP
Federal Member for Dickson
Shadow Minister for Health and Ageing
Dr Andrew Southcott MP
Federal Member for Boothby
Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Primary Health Care
COALITION TO REVIEW MEDICARE LOCALS
The Coalition will formally review the structure of Medicare Locals if elected in September.
Medicare Locals were established by the Rudd and Gillard Governments to coordinate primary health care delivery.
Labor has established around a dozen bureaucracies since 2007 in the health and ageing portfolio alone. This is despite the Government’s dire fiscal predicament and cuts to a range of programs that have affected patients and clinicians.
The Coalition’s priority is to ensure Commonwealth health funding is used as productively as possible. We are committed to reducing waste and expenditure on administration and bureaucracy, so greater investment can be made in services that directly benefit patients and support clinicians.
The 61 Medicare Locals are companies limited by guarantee that have been allocated significant funding from the Commonwealth, including $493 million over four years for their establishment with annual ‘core funding’ of $171 million per year.
The Coalition continues to support a role for coordination of primary health care services.
However, there remains a lack of detail and conflicting information regarding the objectives of Medicare Locals; the current level of practical assistance provided to general practice, allied health professionals and patients; how funding is being administered; the effectiveness of their cooperation with Local Hospital Networks to keep people out of hospitals; duplication of function with existing State health programs; and, how Medicare Locals determine market failure in their area and intervene without disrupting existing services.
Given the significant investment the Commonwealth is making, the Coalition wants to ensure that funding is being spent as effectively as possible.
If elected, the Coalition will commission a formal review. The terms of reference will be focused to:
• Recognise general practice as the cornerstone of primary care in the governance structures;
• Ensure Commonwealth funding supports clinical services, rather than administration;
• Assess processes for determining market failure and service intervention, so existing clinical services are not disrupted or discouraged;
• Evaluate the practical interaction with Local Hospital Networks, including boundaries.
• Examine tendering and contacting arrangements.
Any efficiencies or savings will support further investment in primary health care services that directly benefit patients.
Media contact for Mr Dutton: Tom Fleming 0437 250 045
Media contact for Dr Southcott: Ryan Post 0439 855 067