Doctors want reassurance on Medicare Locals fund-holding

THE Gillard Government has come under fire for failing to consult GPs about the fund-holding role of Medicare Locals (MLs), with doctors now calling for reassurances that the new bodies will only be able to directly fund primary care services in cases of “severe market failure”.

Announcing the new guidelines for MLs, Prime Minister Julia Gillard last week flagged the new bodies would evolve to take on a greater fund-holding role.

“I also want to make sure that Medicare Locals over time become fund-holding organisations… so if there isn’t enough of a particular service available, Medicare Locals can make a difference to that,” she said.

AMA president Dr Andrew Pesce voiced concerns that MLs could end up using this type of funding mechanism to fund services that were already adequately provided by GPs via fee-for-service. He added that while the AMA supported fund-holding to provide services where there had been