One of Australia’s largest community health services, cohealth, is calling on the Federal Government to reform Medicare supports for patients with complex health needs to access the comprehensive care that they need from community health sector GPs.
In its Federal Election Statement, cohealth highlights how the current fee-for-service Medicare funding model fails to cover the additional time and costs of providing health care for people with complex needs, such as those experiencing homelessness, language and literacy barriers, people who use drugs and alcohol and those who face discrimination in the community.
“Community health centres, such as cohealth, provide comprehensive, integrated care, including general practice, close to where people live to meet the needs of people with a range of complexities,” said Nicole Bartholomeusz, Chief Executive, cohealth
“Many of our clients require interpreters, longer appointment times to address multiple health issues and require multidisciplinary team-based care to navigate between the disability, aged care, primary care and hospital sectors.”
cohealth says that while Medicare remains a fundamental part of Australia’s universal health care system, it needs to be enhanced to support those most in need.
Ms Bartholomeusz said that cohealth provides essential general practice services at a significant loss, requiring the organisation to cover the cost of delivering care.
“It’s important we continue offering GP services via community health, because otherwise many of our clients would not be able to access the integrated care they need,” she said.
“We’re calling on the Federal Government to commit to a model of blended payments, including a loading for client complexity and outcome-based payments, to enhance an exclusive fee-for-service model,” she said.
“The reformed funding model must recognise the additional costs associated with providing care to groups facing disadvantage and acknowledge the specialised skills of community health sector GPs,” said Ms Bartholomeusz.
cohealth says there are precedents for the enhancements they are proposing, such as incentives for rural primary health care and primary care trials (such as Health Care Homes), and the proposals in the recently released Primary Health Care 10 Year Plan.
“With co-located medical, allied health and social supports, Community Health can assist people facing disadvantage to achieve their best health, reducing the need for expensive hospital care and saving the Australian health system money, but it is imperative that we are properly funded to do this work,” said Ms Bartholomeusz.
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More on cohealth:
cohealth is one of Australia’s largest not-for-profit community health organisation that strives to improve health and wellbeing for all. cohealth provides universal access to services as well as targeted programs and assertive models to address the health disparities experienced by disadvantaged groups. cohealth offers a broad range of high quality, integrated health and support services, including medical, oral, pharmacy, mental health and drug and alcohol services.
more information: Lanie Harris 0418 552 377 email@example.com