In yet another attempt to win over the electorate before the upcoming elections, the Turnbull government has come out with a tailored health services plan aimed at chronically ill patients.
Estimates say that one in five Australians is facing chronic health conditions, including cardiac problems, diabetes and cancer.
The government announced the new scheme after conducting a primary healthcare review. In a statement, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Health Minister Sussan Ley said the government would start a trial of Healthcare Homes in the country to enable chronically ill patients to “nominate a GP practice as their home base.”
The PM described the new plan as “one of the biggest health-system reforms since the introduction of Medicare 30 years ago.”
The PM said the latest reforms would be presented to state and territory leaders at the COAG meeting on Friday. According to the PM’s office, 65,000 people would benefit from the first trials and 200 medical practitioners will be involved in the program.
Under the Healthcare Homes, patients will receive tailored health services, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.
The recommendation for Healthcare Homes came from former Australian Medical Association President, Dr. Steve Hambleton who chaired the review.
He noted that Healthcare Homes could provide better care, coordinated services and a team-based approach in accordance with the wishes of the patient.
Regarding payment, the general practitioners will be paid quarterly “except where a routine health issue does not relate to their chronic illness.”
The fees structure in the new model will be radically different from the current fee-for-service model of Medicare.
Consumer Health Forum Chief Executive Officer Leanne Wells welcome the decision and said it was “long overdue” but cautioned that adequate funds would be required to work it nationally.
Under the new experiment, the government would intensify data collection and use of digital health records for sharing information between doctors.
According to a report in The Guardian, the program would start on 1 July 2017 and the federal government would be spending $21 million.
It said a leaked government document had indicated that the package would be run by taking $70 million annually from the hospital funding.
The healthcare plan was slammed by Labor and the Greens. Catherine King, the opposition spokeswoman on health, said: “proposals to better manage chronic care are doomed unless the Turnbull government abandons its more than $2b in cuts to general practice.”
The Greens leader Richard Di Natale said the package was “light on detail and funding.”