Abolishing Medicare Locals, as reported in today’s media, would reverse the gains they have already made in primary healthcare and ultimately result in a less equitable and efficient healthcare system.
Medicare Locals were set up by the previous government to lead the planning and co-ordination of primary healthcare in each of their 62 local areas nationwide. The need for MLs (or similar primary healthcare organisations) was identified by the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission in its final report in 2009. The NHHRC cited international evidence demonstrating that a health system oriented around primary healthcare delivered better outcomes at a lower cost than one focused on hospital services. A strong primary healthcare sector has also been shown to increase the overall equity of the health system.