2,000 Doctors Say NO To Contracts As US “Managed Health Care” Companies Target Australia – 24 March 1996

The Australian Doctors’ Fund has published the names of 2,000 doctors in today’s ‘THE AUSTRALIAN’.  The list is a progressive update of those doctors who oppose signing contracts with Health Funds and Private Hospitals because they warn that it is the first step toward the introduction of US style Managed Health Care into Australia.

In the United States, Managed Health Care has seen restriction of choice of doctor, the limiting of patient treatment, early hospital discharge, mega profits for Managed Health Care companies and soaring health costs of 8-10% pa.

Spokesman for the Australian Doctors’ Fund, Mr Stephen Milgate, said that doctors claims that the 1995 Lawrence Health Contracts Legislation would lead to US style Managed Care have been vindicated with the arrival in Australia of huge American  Managed Health Care Corporations eager to do business.

“Dr Carmen Lawrence has been reassuring Australians that her Legislation would not lead to US Managed Health Care at the same time as US Managed Health Care companies were opening up shop here”, Mr Milgate said.

Mr Milgate said “that the incentive to limit treatment was at the core of US Managed Health Care operations, although this varied between Managed Care organisations, businessmen knew that the real profits are to be made by limiting treatment”.

“Although some of the bonuses and penalties target quality, most reward limiting care and boosting the HMO’s image and enrollment” – The New England Journal of Medicine 21/12/95.

Mr Milgate said “that Kaiser Permanente and AHI Healthcare Systems Pty Ltd (AHI states that it manages over “250,000 commercial equivalent lives” in the United States) are active in Australia.”  “The Managing Director of AHI, Mr Michael McGrath, has been quite upfront with AHI’s  ambitions in Australia”;

“I believe that the Medicare System in Australia lends itself very much to entering into a commercial relationship and, in fact, I could predict that the Medicare System in Australia could almost be designed to be turned into one large health maintenance organisation similar to the kinds that you see in the United States.” – Michael McGrath, Managing Director AHI Healthcare Systems Pty Ltd  – 2BL ‘World Today’ 26/2/96

Doctors object to a notion of contracts because it is the first and essential step in allowing “third party” middlemen to control Health Care delivery and standards.

AHI has signalled its intention of the company to be involved in Health Care Delivery.

“We would sit down with the medical community, for example, perhaps help them write new clinical protocols in order that patient treatments be more standardised in a hospital setting.” – Michael McGrath, Managing Director AHI Healthcare Systems Pty Ltd  – 2BL ‘World Today’ 26/2/96

“Doctors are calling on the Federal Government and the Democrats to use their numbers in both houses to save Australians from Managed Health Care by repealing any part of the Lawrence Legislation relating to the contracting of doctors before it’s too late”, Mr Milgate said.