As the Federal Government’s new Strengthening Medicare Taskforce prepare to meet for the first time today, cohealth, one of Australia’s largest community health services is urging taskforce members to look at how the community health model of care could be expanded nationally to improve the health of Australians facing disadvantage.
cohealth’s Chief Executive, Nicole Bartholomeusz, says that some of the ideas already being considered by Taskforce members, such as better integration of nurse practitioners and allied health with GP practices, and a greater focus on chronic disease management in the community, rather than in hospitals, is exactly what organisations like cohealth deliver.
“Our model of care keeps people with complex health issues out of hospitals and acute care settings by offering multidisciplinary, team-based health and social services – which includes GPs – close to where people live. We work intentionally to build trust and confidence with communities by offering affordable, accessible, trauma informed and culturally safe services. This philosophy is at the heart of community health,” said Ms Bartholomeusz.
Ms Bartholomeusz said a key Taskforce priority will be how to improve the system for people who have the poorest health.
“People who experience disadvantage or have complex health conditions have the greatest health needs yet face significant barriers to receiving care,” she said.
“The community health model of care provides a blueprint for how we can improve the health of all Australians, but especially people living in poverty or experiencing homelessness and those who face discrimination.”
Ms Bartholomeusz said that Medicare funding reforms should recognise that meeting the needs of people experiencing disadvantage comes with additional costs and resourcing requirements, including use of interpreters, longer appointment times and specific expertise.
“Community health services do an exceptional job of improving the health of some our most disadvantaged community members, but we would operate more sustainably, and with a wider reach if Medicare funding reflected the greater complexity of our clients and our work.
“We encourage the Taskforce to acknowledge that fee for service medicine does not work for everyone. We call for the Taskforce to examine a new model of Medicare payments which includes a loading for client complexity and enrolment of clients with outcome-based payments.”
“We applaud the Federal Government’s rapid progress on one of their key commitments through the establishment of the Taskforce, and look forward to sharing our experience to create a better primary healthcare system that provides equity for all Australians,” said Ms Bartholomeusz.
More information: Lanie.Harris@cohealth.org.au or 0418 552 377
About cohealth: cohealth is a not-for-profit community health organisation that provides low-cost and free local health and support services including medical, dental, allied health, mental health, aged care and counselling, and many specialist health services across Melbourne’s CBD, northern and western suburbs as well as statewide.