Coalitions proposed review of Medicare Locals: a hint of things to come

Coalitions proposed review of Medicare Locals: a hint of things to come

27 May 2013

The health policy debate is building up and should rightly focus on the primary health care sector, AML Alliance CEO Claire Austin said today, following the Coalitions announcement that it plans to review Medicare Locals, if the party is elected in September.

AML Alliance sees this as an opportunity to fill in the information gaps the Coalition seems to have about Medicare Locals, Ms Austin said.

AML Alliance is about to release the results of a sector survey that provides information about patient reach, primary health care services and frontline personnel numbers versus administrative personnel which clearly demonstrates Australias primary health care system has matured and is delivering at the frontline.

We have a wealth of data available to inform the Opposition about the Medicare Local sector and I look forward to the Opposition actively seeking this information from us, Ms Austin said.

Medicare Locals are undertaking local planning and service coordination in partnership with other local services and frontline experts, ensuring better management of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease smoking cessation programs and asthma for example, she said.

Improvements in after hours care and access to GPs is happening now with Medicare Locals working systematically in 61 catchment areas to identify where there are gaps in after hours services and where services need to be adjusted to meet local community needs.

Medicare Locals have been established to reduce the onus of health care on the hospital sector and to keep people well and out of hospital.

With Australias ageing population and the increasing proportion of adults who are either overweight (35%) or obese (28%), as highlighted in todays COAG Reform Council report Healthcare 2011-12: Comparing performance across Australia, the acute care sector cannot be expected to cope with this onslaught of increasing chronic disease, in terms of patient numbers and cost to the system.

Either way, with both sides of politics committed to coordinated primary health care services, its a win/win for communities across Australia, Ms Austin said.

AML Alliance, the peak primary health care body for the 61 Medicare Locals, is working to strengthen and support its members to deliver integrated care at the frontline, locally.