Private firms seek role in Medicare system

Private firms have been invited to play a key role in a new health and aged care payments system. (AAP)

A Senate committee has heard work is well under way to involve private firms in a new multi-million-dollar health and aged care payments system.

Private companies have been invited to play a key role in a new computer system to manage $50 billion in health and aged care payments.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last year made a clear election commitment all Medicare services currently delivered by government would stay that way.

The commitment was made in the wake of a concerted attack by Labor - nicknamed "Mediscare" - about privatisation of the health system.

A Senate committee has now heard the Digital Transformation Agency, which is based in the prime minister's department, was working with the health department on a new payments management system.

The DTA has given advice on how to make the system more user-friendly especially for doctors, aged care providers and patients.

The health department is close to finalising its review of a request for information process, which attracted strong interest from the private sector.

"It may entail leveraging a third-party provider in terms of the software," DTA chief Gavin Slater told the committee in Canberra on Tuesday.

"It may entail moving it to a cloud-based environment."

The committee heard the department would remain the "business owner" responsible for policy and delivery.

"The RFI which went to market was really looking for industry to come forward with proposals to build parts of the system or all of the system," DTA chief of staff Nerida O'Loughlin said.

Asked whether telcos or banks had been specifically banned from the project, Mr Slater said: "Not that I'm aware of."

But he would be surprised if they were, because the typical response to such a project would come from software companies.

Source AAP

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