ADF Medicare Locals or Managed Care Locals – 5 October 2011

“Doctors and the Australian public need to be warned that Medicare Locals set the stage for a demedicalised form of US managed care.” Dr Stan Doumani, spokesman for the Australian Doctors’ Fund, said in Canberra today.

“Health bureaucrats are busy demolishing divisions of general practice and replacing them with Medicare Locals with new constitutions imposing a minority role on general practitioners and family doctors,” Dr Doumani said.

“There is no way that busy GPs have time to go through seventy pages of a Medicare Local constitution and read all the fine print. There has been no opportunity to get direct accounting and legal advice on the implications of these constitutions, yet GPs are expected to endorse them and hand over their role in primary care to bureaucrats and other health providers described as ‘clinicians’,” Dr Doumani said. Comments by Prime Minister Gillard on 22 February 2011, that she would “want to make sure that Medicare Locals over time become fund holding organisations”1 are a clear indication that a major change in primary care funding is underway, yet there is very little public debate on the issue,” Dr Doumani said.

“There is no need for Australia to import the blights of US managed care or the UK patient registration system. Australians have always enjoyed choice of doctor under a fee for service arrangement and should never be denied that choice. This choice should be available to everyone, including those with chronic illness such as diabetes.

“Australia has now been divided up into Medicare Local regions where funding for health care will be delivered.

“The problem for patients is, what happens when the funding for the Medicare Local region runs out and the waiting lists start? We have never had waiting lists for primary care and we don’t want them now. Nor do we want to treat patients with diabetes to a government determined formula or price in the same way that managed care manages patients’ health costs,” Dr Doumani said.

“Australia has been well served by the GP/specialist model, and any attempt to socially re-engineer this system for ideological reasons is not only unsound, it is bad medicine.” Dr Doumani said.

1Joint Press Conference, Canberra – National health reform,