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Hope, not funds, keeping divisions alive

3rd Aug 2012
Byron Kaye   all articles by this author

DIVISIONS are keeping themselves alive despite all their Commonwealth funding now going to Medicare Locals amid hopes a coalition government will abolish MLs and restore government support for the former GP bodies.

A month after the final round of MLs took over, at least two Victorian divisions have told MO that opposition statements indicating that a coalition would consider unwinding MLs if elected in 2013 – as is widely expected – were being factored into divisions’ plans to stay incorporated.

“I wouldn’t say that that is our prime motivation, but it adds an extra twist,” a division CEO who requested anonymity said.

“Certainly in some divisions’ cases the outcomes of a change of government are a factor in their thinking.”

It comes after opposition health spokesman Peter Dutton surprised delegates at the AMA national conference in May by saying “we won’t continue with the Medicare Local structure”.

Greater Monash GP Network chair Dr Leon Massage said his organisation would rename itself the ‘Greater Melbourne’ network and pitch itself as a division for any Melbourne GPs who felt MLs could not support them – and that divisions in other states were taking similar initiatives.

Dr Massage said the main reason was to continue “that accumulated 18 years of experience” but said his division could benefit from a coalition-led reversal.

“If Dutton had said nothing about Medicare Locals we would be doing exactly the same thing,” he said. “But if the wheel does turn, we’ll be in a position to take advantage of it.”

Mr Dutton’s office, AGPN and AML Alliance all declined comment.

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