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Thursday, August 18, 2016

No halt to Medicare outsource work issued : $5 million PriceWaterhouseCoopers contract

Private firm told to stop work on contract to manage the outsourcing of the Medicare payments system: 11:37am August 19, 2016 No halt to Medicare outsource work issued A private firm has not been told to stop work on a $5 million taxpayer-funded contract to manage the outsourcing of the Medicare payments system. Labor leader Bill Shorten campaigned heavily during the election on the issue of Turnbull government plans to "privatise" Medicare. Labor's claim was based on several factors, including a contract given to PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) to oversee the outsourcing of the $50 billion-a-year payments system. A digital payments services task force was set up within the government, with PriceWaterhouseCoopers paid $5 million until the end of this year to provide management advice. Asked on June 22, during the election campaign, whether the government had scrapped the contract, Mr Turnbull told reporters: "The administration of the research into this is a matter for the department." However, also during the election campaign Mr Turnbull declared the project would be run out of the government's digital transformation office. PWC has declined to say whether it is still working on the project, referring AAP to the federal health department. Mr Turnbull's department and the human services department also referred AAP to the health department for comment, when asked whether work had been ordered to stop. The health department has now replied to an AAP freedom-of-information (FOI) request seeking details on what changes had been made to the $5 million PriceWaterhouseCoopers contract since Mr Turnbull announced the system would be upgraded using the resources of the digital transformation office. AAP sought correspondence or documents relating to "modification, cessation or continuation" of the PWC contract. After what was described as a "thorough and extensive search", nothing was turned up. "I am satisfied the documents referred to in your request do not exist," Kate McCauley of the digital payments services task force told AAP in her FOI response. Labor health spokeswoman Catherine King said it proved nothing Mr Turnbull said about Medicare could be trusted. "He promised during the election campaign that he'd ordered a halt to the privatisation of Medicare services, and now we learn that it is a lie," she said. "This FOI response confirms nothing has changed and the privatisation plans are continuing." Several private companies, including telcos such as Telstra, EFTPOS providers and the big banks, have shown interest in running the system as they have online payment and supply structures. Read more at http://www.9news.com.au/national/2016/08/19/11/40/no-halt-to-medicare-outsource-work-issued#R7yXSqgrURxzHCGl.99

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