The Abbott Government’s decision to close all 61 Medicare Locals and replace them with 30 new health bureaucracies is another blow for Medicare.
The boundaries for the Primary Healthcare Networks – snuck out this afternoon with no statement by the Government – are grossly inadequate and will not meet the health needs of Australians.
Despite promising before the last election that not a single Medicare Local would close, the Government now plans to close every single one, replacing them with Primary Healthcare Networks.
At 30, there will be fewer than half previous number of Medicare Locals. There will only be one PHN for all of North Queensland and only two for the whole of South Australia. One Medicare Local in Western Australia will cover over 90 per cent of the state – from top to bottom.
Medicare Locals were established to respond to the specific health needs of local communities. With fewer than half the number of their predecessor, PHNs already have twice the challenge ahead of them to achieve this.
It has been estimated that the cost to close Medicare Locals will be more than $200 million. Today’s revelation will create bureaucratic chaos and only add further delays and more costs.
Tony Abbott’s decision to break an election promise that no Medicare Locals will close will only put extra stress on a health system that faces more than $50 billion in cuts to hospitals, a $1.3 billion increase in the cost of medicines and the GP Tax which will rip the heart out of Medicare and drive up the costs of diagnostics.
Tony Abbott promised before the last election that not a single Medicare Local would close. Just as he lied about cuts to pensions, lied about cuts to health, and lied about introducing no new taxes, today’s announcement is proof he also lied about not shutting Medicare Locals.