Foreign multinationals circle Medicare
Reporter for The Canberra Times
Foreign multinationals are jostling to take over the payment of tens
Companies from the US, Germany, Japan and Britain have
of billions of dollars in Medicare and other Australian government
approached the Commonwealth, interested in taking over the Medicare,
Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and Veterans Affairs payments in an
Only three home-grown players, Eftpos, Australia
Post and Telstra offshoot Stellar, are in the hunt to secure the
massive contract if the Abbott government decided to go ahead with the
But British services giant Serco, Japanese-US outfit Fuji-Xerox,
German software behemoth SAP as well as American outsourcing powerhouse
Accenture are all circling too, according to well-placed sources in the
local "business process outsourcing" industry.
The news comes as
Prime Minister Tony Abbott moves to place limits on purchases of
Australian agricultural land by foreign entities.
Department called in August 2014 for expressions of interest from
private players interested in taking over the payment of $29 billion
each year in health and pharmaceutical benefits currently managed by the
Human Services Minister Marise Payne says much
of the Department of Human Services IT infrastructure used to process
the payments was ageing and needed to be replaced and the private sector
might be able to supply cheaper solutions.
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government has insisted that the expressions of interest process is a
"market testing" exercise but has been coy about those companies
expressing an interest, merely conceding that some of them have had an
Outsourcing industry players have
complained recently that the process has been in a "holding pattern"
with little news trickling out of government.
Senator Payne's office referred questions to the Health Department which said in a statement that progress was being made.
potential to have health service claims and payments provided by
commercial providers has been tested through an initial expression of
Interest process," a spokeswoman said.
"The evaluation of the responses and consideration of options is still in progress."
spokeswoman for Australia Post confirmed on Thursday that the service
was keen to get its hands on the payments contract as part of its
broader expansion plans.
"Australia Post is committed to growing the range of trusted services that we provide our customers," the spokeswoman said.
believe we are uniquely positioned with our extensive distribution
reach and proven trusted services capabilities to deliver more
Oracle, Fuji-Xerox, SAP, Accenture, Serco, Eftpos and
Stellar were all also contacted for comment and only Fuji-Xerox
responded, saying it would not comment.
The Labor opposition,
public sector unions and most recently the Australian Medical
Association have all come out against any move to outsource the payment
with the AMA criticising the idea in its submission to a Parliamentary
committee on health policy.
"The call for expressions of interest
appears to have been made without any analysis of the cost savings and
efficiencies already provided by medical practices," the submission
Shadow minister for Human Services Senator Doug Cameron said
the idea of outsourcing the payments to the private sector was purely
Stellar (Telstra, Australia)
Australia Post (Australia)