Cabinet reshuffle delays Medicare payments upgrade


Topics: IT Services; Hardware; Software; Digital Transformation: Fed.

The Department of Health has pushed back the release of the Request for Information (RFI) for its new health and aged care digital payments platform, citing the appointment of a new Minister for Health as the reason for the delay.

The release of the RFI, which had been planned for late January or early February, will now be held back until Greg Hunt – who replaced Sussan Ley as health minister on 24 January following a travel expenses scandal – has been suitably briefed on the Modernising Health and Aged Care Payments Services Program.

“Given the importance of the Modernising Health and Aged Care Payments Service Program, the Minister is being briefed on the Program, including the Request for Information”, an addendum notice from the Digital Health Payments Market Briefing Material states.

“The DoH expects to issue the RFI to identify solutions for an innovative, cost effective digital payments platform to support health and aged care payments in the coming weeks”.

The RFI is the first step in the department’s two-stage Request for Proposal process for the new payments platform, which will be based on existing commercial technology. The RFI will be followed by a procurement phase.

The DoH is still considering all the available options for the procurement phase, such as whether to use single or multiple RFPs to acquire different elements of the solution, or if a panel arrangement – like the System Integrator panel the Department of Human Services has established for the Welfare Payment Infrastructure Transformation – should be used.

The process of identifying solutions began in October 2016, when the then Minister for Health and Aged Care Sussan Ley and the Minister for Human Services Alan Tudge announced the new payments system. The department held briefings for the program in January.

The DoH is leading the project, with the Department of Human Services (DHS), Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Digital Transformation Agency providing support. DHS will be responsible for operating the solution.

The new payments platform will cover Medicare, Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, aged care and related veterans’ payments, but disability payments will continue to be supported by the National Disability Insurance Scheme’s own IT system.

“Whilst there are relationships between this system and other systems within government, they are being developed separately. Clearly, in terms of policy requirements, there are some complexities that are being worked through about how those systems interact, but these payments are separate and standalone from the NDIS”, the department said in response to questions from the market briefing.

The system will also be expected to work with the DTA’s identity management system

The department hopes to appoint a vendor or vendors for the new platform by the end of 2018.

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