- The Australian
- May 23, 2016 12:00AM
Friday, June 03, 2016
The Labor Party Is Overly Concerned About Outsourcing Of Medicare IT I Believe.
This appeared last week.
Health reforms and budget management initiatives are dependent on a new Medicare payment system that the Coalition has not funded and Labor is warning voters not to allow it to be privatised.
The future of the Medicare IT system is unclear and the suggestion it might be outsourced has fuelled Labor’s campaign against health cuts.
The Australian understands a decision whether to outsource or upgrade internally must be made soon after the election as the system is reaching its use-by date.
Policymakers want Medicare to have greater data capabilities and be more digital than paper-based. However, there are concerns changes will bring cost blowouts and complications, and unions oppose any move to replace public servants.
Documents obtained under Freedom of Information laws show the system problems are making it harder and more expensive to manage Medicare and similar payments — with more than 600 million annual transactions — and stifling reform. The outdated systems have hampered efforts to investigate Medicare use by health practitioners.
In the 2014 budget, the government funded market testing of an outsourced payments system. This confirmed private sector interest in such an arrangement and led to the creation of a digital payment services taskforce.
My view is that the Medicare IT system has become so complex, and requires such flexibility, that with the appropriate contract arrangements the Government can attain very high service levels at less cost than can be achieved with in-house operations.
Government is not expert in IT operations and there is no reason for it to be pretending it can deliver complex expert services in the same way as some of the major private sector organisations can in my view. Whatever happens at the election, we need to get on with this before the system fails!
Posted by Dr David G More MB PhD at Friday, June 03, 2016