A man leaves a government medical care centre in central Sydney May 12, 2009. Australia's centre-left government will announce at 0930 GMT on May 12 what is the most keenly watched national budget in years, as the country heads for a recession, unemployment rises and rumours swirl of a possible early general election. Reuters/Daniel Munoz

The federal government's initiative to review Medicare services is an attempt to restructure it according to 21st century needs, but the Opposition and Medical Association have come down heavily on the move.

Among the 5,700 items on the list, about 70 percent haven’t been amended since Medicare began in 1984.

Health Minister Sussan Ley called the review the “first of its kind” and said she should be informed if anyone feels the items are “unnecessary, out-dated or unsafe”.

“The current system is lagging in the last century, with only three percent of all 5700 Medicare items assessed or tested to see whether they actually work, are out-of-date or even harmful,” her statement said.

Ley reported that consultations regarding the review would commence from Sunday. She also said that such out-dated services affect the economy of the country, as no new investment is taking place and innovative medical treatments and technologies are lacking. "This is particularly important when Medicare claims are now hitting one million per day," she added.

While noting that the sudden launch of the review was not surprising, Senior Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese argued that the coalition was never supportive of the Medicare system. "Every opportunity they have to undermine public health care, they do it," he was quoted by Skynews as saying.

Labor health spokeswoman Catherine King added that her party was deeply concerned in the wake of the new announcement.

She felt that the medical community was left behind without being a part of this consultation and the review was a means to cut health funding. “Malcolm Turnbull’s move could end public funding for thousands of procedures and transfer billions of dollars of costs on to sick Australians and their families," she said.

The Australian Medical Association has also condemned the government’s action and said the medical profession no longer supported the government. “Deeply disappointed in government’s attack on integrity of #Medicare and the medical profession to cut health funding and services,” AMA president Brian Owler tweeted.

Although Owler agreed that the services were outdated, he criticised Ley for accusing doctors of making a profit by using out-dated and unsafe procedures.

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