Medicare payments privatisation dumped, but IT refresh is imminent

That sound you can hear? Big integrators are rubbing their hands together

Australia's Medicare will have to contract its own systems to replace the current payment processing iron, with politics killing off the idea that payment processing could be privatised.

The current government had long entertained hopes to get the payment processing off its books. However, that opened a political wedge for the ALP, which has been campaigning on the basis that it was a step in dismantling the country's universal(ish) healthcare system.

Rather than try and explain the difference between a back-office function and service delivery, the government decided over the weekend to deep-six the idea.

Liberal leader and prime minister seeking re-election Malcolm Turnbull said on Sunday that “every element” of Medicare currently delivered by government “will be delivered by government in the future”.

While having the AU$30 billion worth of payments fenced off from service providers will disappoint the likes of Telstra, the IT industry isn't going to be drowning its sorrows over the announcement. Like other major government systems, Medicare's systems and software are overdue for a refresh.

Pressed on the need for an upgrade, Sky reports ALP health spokesperson Catherine King “wouldn't rule out” involving the private sector in Medicare's IT systems.

Which is hardly surprising, since the last time The Register checked, the Australian government's involvement in IT system design and manufacture was zero.

The big end of IT is already expecting a billion or so to upgrade Australia's creaking Centrelink infrastructure.

Cabinet approved the Centrelink spend in April 2015. ®

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