Cathy McGowan says give us health facts

FEDERAL member for Indi Cathy McGowan is calling on the government to release its review of Medicare Local.

The independent MP said members of the public should be able to examine the report themselves, and see any decision on the health initiative’s future is “made on the best grounds and not on party lines”.

Her comments come after reports surfaced this week the federal government was considering axing the Medicare Local scheme — introduced by the previous Labor government about two years ago — in next month’s budget.

The government has completed a review of the community health service but has indicated the findings will not be made public before the budget.

There are 61 Medicare Local services nationwide, including the Hume service which employs more than 50 staff.

It is understood a memo leaked to Medicare Local heads stated the services would close by mid-next year and be replaced with larger, centralised agencies in metropolitan cities.

Ms McGowan said such a move would not benefit rural and regional Australia, particularly border cities like Albury-Wodonga.

“It is far better (dealing with smaller services) than dealing with Melbourne or Sydney,” she said.

“They never understand how we operate cross-border.”

Ms McGowan said she fully supported the existing scheme, praising it particularly for its work in pinpointing service gaps and getting more funding for smaller, rural communities.

“I’m calling on them to release the reports now, so we can work from fact rather than the politics,” she said.

“They need to trust us as a community to look and make the decisions that need to be made.”

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