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The Australian Federal government is implementing changes to Medicare, Australia’s publicly funded universal healthcare system.
The government change includes the founding of Medicare Locals, which will be run independent of the government with links to community medical organisations.
The Australian Medical Assocatiotion (AMA) has voted to oppose the establishment of Medicare Locals and called on the government to provide greater consultation with the medical profession.
AMA President, Dr Andrew Pesce, said the government needs to involve and recognize general practitioners (GPs) in the delivery of health care.
“The AMA cannot support primary care reforms that do not explain how they would benefit patients or communities, and which do not guarantee they would maintain and support the leadership role of GPs in primary care.”
The Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC) have come forward is support of Medicare Locals, but have stressed that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander interests are included in the planning process.
Chairperson of the QAIHC, Ms Sheryl Lawton, has called for a partnership between the QLD General Practitioners and the Aboriginal and Islander health sector.
“QAIHC believes that the new Medicare Locals can make a significant dent in the current inefficiencies in the health system but their effectiveness in supporting efforts to close the health gap between Indigenous and other Australians will be determined by how much Aboriginal and Islander health experts have in setting them up and in developing their role,” Ms Lawton said.
The Medicare Locals will begin operating in mid-2011, and the remaining being introduced by mid-2012.
Medicare Locals will be given funding to specifically target gaps in the health care service for those in aged care.